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Retrospect and Prospect 




The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 

The Influence of Sea Power upon the French 
Revolution and Empire. Two volumes. 

The Life of Nelson, the Embodiment of the 
Sea Power of Great Britain. Two volumes. 

The Life of Nelson. Popular edition. One 

The Interest of America in Sea, Power, 
Present and Future. 

Lessons of the War with Spain, and other 

The Problem of Asia and its Effect upon 
International Policies. 

Types of Naval Officers, with Some Re- 
marks on the Development of Naval 
Warfare during the Eighteenth Century. 

Retrospect and Prospect. Studies in Inter- 
national Relations, Naval and Politi- 

Retrospect ^ Prospect 

Studies in International Relations 
Naval and Political 

A. T. Mahan, D.C.L., LL.D. 

Captain, United States Na<vy 

Author of "The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 

1660-1783," " The Influence of Sea Power 

upon the French Revolution and 

Empire,' ' etc. 

Little, Brown, and Company 


: : 



Copyright, 1901, 
By Doubleday, Page, & Co. 

Copyright, 1902, 
By Judge Co. 

Copyright, 1902, 
By The S. S. McClure Co. 

Copyright, 1902, 
By Frederick A. Richardson. 

Copyright, 1902, 
By A. T. Mahan. 


All rights reserved. 

Published October, 1902. 


Two ComeB Received 

OCT. 18 19G? 

CL.A88 0L *X* No. 

university press • john wilson 
and son • Cambridge, u. s. a. 


IN their main features, the following essays 
are in direct sequence to those of the 
author's previous volumes, "The Interest of 
America in Sea Power," and " The Problem 
of Asia." The title article, Retrospect and 
Prospect, in its scope serves as a connecting 
link between the present and their prede- 
cessors ; indicating the continuity of interest 
and gradual development of the several sub- 
jects dealt with. As the future has passed 
into the present, it has brought with it the 
unfolding of inevitable policy, evolving fresh 
problems, that are in essence only new phases 
of a steady progression, which in its course is 
making history. 

As has hitherto usually been the case, the 
articles in this book for the most part have 
been written, not of the author's own initiative, 
but in response to the request of editors. Such 
significance as may attach to this is due to the 
fact that the work consequently indicates, not 

vi Preface 

the trend of a single mind, but the outlook of 
those whose business is to study the current 
of events, to watch the tide of popular interest 
and feeling, and thus to provide for readers 
information or discussion upon matters toward 
which general curiosity is seen to be turning. 
It is perfectly consistent with the general tend- 
ency thus avouched, and even illustrative of it, 
that the series, if it may be called such in vir- 
tue of a consecutiveness rather essential than 
formal, has led out from considerations nar- 
rowly American, with which the papers began, 
into the broad field of world policies; for 
thither our nation also is indisputably and 
irresistibly moving. 

Herein lies whatever of lasting value or 
interest may attach to the subjects treated, or 
the treatment given. In retrospect, and from 
this point of view, it now seems a kind of happy 
forecast that the first of the long succession, 
written over twelve years ago, began with the 
words, " Indications are not wanting of an 
approaching change in the thoughts and policy 
of Americans as to their relations with the 
world outside their own borders." * The pres- 
age has been fulfilled, far beyond any con- 
sciousness then possible to the writer. 

1 Interest of America in Sea Power, p. 3. 

Preface vii 

I desire to return my cordial thanks, for the 
permission here to reprint, to the several pro- 
prietors and editors of the periodicals in which 
the articles first appeared. I owe to them not 
only the recognition of their courtesy in this 
respect, but the further acknowledgment that, 
save for their intervention, probably no single 
one would have been undertaken. The name 
of each magazine, with the date of publication, 
is attached to the title in the Table of Contents. 
The dates at the head of the articles show the 
time of writing. 


September, 1902. 




Retrospect and Prospect 3 

By Courtesy of The World's Work, February, 1902 


Conditions Determining the Naval Expansion of 

the United States 39 

By Courtesy of Leslie's Weekly, October, 2, 1902 

The Influence of the South African War upon 

the Prestige of the British Empire ... 57 

By Courtesy of The National Review, December, 1901 


Motives to Imperial Federation 89 

By Courtesy of The National Review and the International 
Monthly, May, 1902 


Considerations Governing the Disposition of i 0t s' 

Navies 139 

By Courtesy of The National Review, July, 1902 

x Contents 


The Persian Gulf and International Relations . 209^^ 

By Courtesy of The National Review, September, 1902 

The Military Rule of Obedience . . . . . . 255 

By Courtesy of The National Review and International 
Monthly, March, 1902 

Admiral Sampson 287 

By Courtesy of McClure's Magazine, July, 1902, and the 
Fortnightly Review, August, 1902 



December, 1901 

IT has often been remarked, as a curious 
coincidence, that momentous events, direc- 
tive of the fortunes of nations and of the 
world, are found to cluster about the end of 
our conventional centuries. The final decade 
of the fifteenth saw both the discovery of 
America and its complement in maritime 
achievement, the reaching of India by the 
passage round the Cape of Good Hope. It 
witnessed the consummation of the Spanish 
monarchy by the fall of the last of the Moorish 
kingdoms, at the very instant that the new 
possessions in America constituted the com- 
mencements of the Spanish Empire. During 
it occurred also, in 1494, the first of the 
organized French invasions of Italy, concern- 
ing which a master of history has observed 
that it marked the end of the middle ages, — 
and so the beginnings of modern history, — 
because it put forth a scheme of aggrandize- 

Retrospect and Prospect 

ment foreign to mediaeval conceptions. France 
and Spain, in rivalry, the scope of which was 
not yet realized by either, were preparing to 
attempt the extension of their power over the 
rest of Europe. 

In this effort Spain first succeeded ; but, as 
the sixteenth century drew to its close, the 
annihilation of the Armada, in 1588, gave re- 
sounding proof of her inefficiency as a maritime 
nation. This defect had for its near result the 
success of the Dutch in their struggle for 
independence ; but in it was necessarily in- 
volved the ultimate downfall of the primacy 
of Spain among nations, and of her colonial 
Empire, then apparently untouched. The 
years remaining to 1600 were spent by her in 
continued strife with the seamen of England 
and Holland, the predestined destroyers of her 
international predominance. To this position 
France succeeded, reaching the height of her 
power in the latter half of the seventeenth 
century; but in 1688 the English Revolution, 
which decided finally the conflict between 
King and Parliament, thus shaping the future 
of another Empire, imparted also the impulse 
for the descent of France from the eminence 

Retrospect and Prospect 

she had attained. The coming of William of 
Orange to the throne entailed as a necessary 
consequence the accession of England to the 
two general wars of the Continent against 
Louis XIV. These, by their drain upon his 
resources, and the miseries undergone by his 
kingdom, sapped the foundations of the abso- 
lutism upon which the greatness of France had 
been erected, and precipitated the nation upon 
the path to decay and revolution. 

Great Britain at the same epoch, and through 
the same causes, was urged further along the 
way that led her at the end of the war of the 
Spanish Succession, in 171 3, to the unques- 
tioned and unapproached naval supremacy in 
which lay the germ of her expansion that was 
to be. Her progress in territorial and com- 
mercial aggrandizement was the dominant 
feature of the eighteenth century, which, though 
one of chequered strife, was marked upon the 
whole by the ascent of Great Britain, and still 
more by the decisive decline of France. As 
it drew to its close, Louis XVI., in 1788, by 
summoning the States General to meet after 
an intermission of many generations, gave the 
signal for the French Revolution. This, like 

Retrospect and Prospect 

its English predecessor, brought France and 
Great Britain into a prolonged warfare which 
divides into two periods, the Republic and the 
Empire, corresponding to the last two wars 
of Louis XIV. At the peace of 1815 Great 
Britain stood in influence at the head of ; the 
states of European civilization, with a secured 
colonial empire, which, in the final decade]of 
the century, has involved her in a war the most 
momentous she has known since Waterloo, 
and probably productive of permanent results 
to her imperial constitution. 

More striking outwardly, even if not more 
actually decisive, were other events that oc- 
curred between 1890 and 1900. The disap- 
pearance of the colonial empire of Spain after 
four hundred years of continuous life, although 
but the close of a long process of decline, had 
singular dramatic effect. The once colossal 
structure that so long was crumbling had yet 
retained a phantom grandeur, a relic of real 
greatness, which enhanced the majesty of the 
final fall; for in the days of her supremacy 
Spain had over England an ascendency which 
France never attained, and the vastness of her 
power made upon the imagination of English- 

Retrospect and Prospect 

men of that day an impression, traces of which 
long, remained and have been transmitted to 
their descendants in the United States. In 
history, too, few events have been told us with 
as great narrative force as the conquest of 
Granada, and the early contact of Spain with 
America. Upon them the genius of American 
writers has dwelt with peculiar sympathy, both 
from their intrinsic romantic interest and their 
close connection with' the beginnings of our 
own country. In her past, thus told, Spain 
has an immortality resembling that of Rome ; 
and like her she survives and ever will survive 
in the tales of her heroic prime, and in the 
enduring impress of her speech and national 
characteristics left upon great part of the 
peoples of the new world. 

The loss of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Phil- 
ippines, the last remnants of a former vast do- 
minion, is an event which, so far as Spain is 
involved, concerns the past only. At most, 
if it has for her a future, it is one as yet not 
even vaguely indicated. As a matter of world 
interests, its effect upon her is part of the 
retrospect. From the same point of view the 
future of that catastrophe lies in the influence 

8 Retrospect and Prospect 

it is to exert upon the prospective course of 
the United States, upon her internal consti- 
tutional development and her external policy. 
Not only in the lost possessions of Spain has 
the old order yielded, giving place to the new. 
To the former mother country, forced back 
upon herself, to seek in the organization of 
her abundant internal resources the spring of 
a new life, it may yet prove a cause of national 
regeneration, the precursor of re-entrance at 
some future day upon international power rest- 
ing on more solid foundations. Upon the 
United States it has imposed the necessity of 
reconsidering some of the postulates that were 
supposed fundamental and irreversible in the 
scheme of her national existence, and of her 
international relations. The Bible of Ameri- 
can political tradition has had new light thrown 
upon it, and has had to submit to new criti- 
cism, based upon truths newly apprehended 
under the pressure of unforeseen conditions. 
It would not be unprecedented that popular 
conception of the meaning of ideas and phrases, 
formulated and transmitted by our ancestors, 
should be found imperfect or exaggerated under 
the clearer appreciation of a later day. The 

Retrospect and Prospect 

authority hitherto attaching to the popular 
understanding may in such case have to be 
transferred to the correcter signification which 
advancing experience shall have revealed ; and 
obligation, true obedience, will then be seen 
due to the spirit not to the letter. This would 
be but the repetition of a very old story in the 
political as in the religious history of mankind. 
Whenever it happens, however, the transition 
of thought and action consequent upon such 
riper views affects both inner principle and 
outward action. It must therefore bring shock 
to those who are too old to change ; and when 
compressed within a very few years, as our 
recent experience has been, the blow is not 
broken by the slow reconcilement which suc- 
cessive steps effect. It is not surprising that 
the recoil on the part of those thus dismayed 
has been intense, and, it must be added, marked 
less by reasonableness of argument than by 
extravagance of expression ; by tenacious insist- 
ence upon the traditional letter and stubborn 
rejection of evident modifying circumstance. 

Yet, although in point of duration of time 
the change has been too sudden, or at least 
too rapid, to allow the process of gradual 

io Retrospect and Prospect 

mental adjustment which obviates moral dis- 
tress, it has not been without its marked suc- 
cessive stages which might have prepared an 
attentive onlooker for the final outcome. I 
have been told that at the time of the regener- 
ation of the material of the navy, and the lay- 
ing down of modern ships, some fifteen years 
ago, a sagacious political student remarked 
that the measure would be followed by expan- 
sive results resembling those we have recently 
witnessed. There was here, I think, the error 
of taking one link in a chain of events for a 
final cause; but nevertheless the observer 
showed that having a clue in his hand he 
could, as they say at sea, " underrun " it, till 
it led him to the unseen point at which it for 
the moment terminated. That mysterious 
thread of purpose which runs through the 
progression of history comes to the surface 
from time to time in some marks of evident 
preparation. These may be construed, accord- 
ing to individual bias, either as providential, 
or merely as symptomatic of a tendency already 
formed, and which unconsciously manifests 
itself in particular actions conducive to its 
general end. Whichever view be adopted, the 

Retrospect and Prospect 1 1 

opportune renewal of the navy is to my appre- 
hension not a cause, but one in a series of 
events which has constituted the general un- 
witting advance of the nation towards wider 
influence. It was the more notable because 
without visible immediate urgency, save that 
of repairing a cumulative neglect which had 
resulted in atrophy. No cloud on the political 
horizon commanded it; but when the cloud 
afterwards arose the navy was there. 

The foregoing remarks are prefatory to the 
following brief survey of incidents in our own 
history, which have impressed upon the final 
decade of the nineteenth century a significance 
for us, resembling those noted in its prede- 
cessors, prophetic of issues not yet fully to be 
foreseen. It w r as undertaken at the request of 
the editor of the World's Work, — not by my 
own initiative. Thus much is said in explana- 
tion of an attempt which of my proper motion 
would scarcely have been made; for the hasty 
glance which it caused over my occasional 
magazine papers, during the ten years in ques- 
tion, gave me an unexpected start as I realized 
from them the singularly different points of 
view necessarily occupied by an American, at 

1 2 Retrospect and Prospect 

their beginning and at their end, because of 
changes only partly foreshadowed at the earlier 
day when I began to write. 

It was in August, 1890, that the editor of 
the Atlantic Monthly, Mr. Horace E. Scudder, 
wrote to ask from me what proved to be the 
first magazine article I ever published. He 
referred to a very brief and casual remark in 
my book then recently out — "The Influence 
of Sea Power upon History"- — touching the 
exposed condition of our Pacific Coast in the 
event of an isthmian canal being made. I 
had quoted in that connection the expression 
of a French admiral to me, during a cruise 
then recent, that in our " little corner " of the 
world we did not need the military and naval 
preparation incumbent upon the nations of 
Europe. To this I added, " Yet should that 
little corner be invaded by a new commercial 
route through the isthmus, the United States 
in her turn may have the rude awakening of 
those who have abandoned their share in the 
common birthright of all people — the sea." 

This reflection, which followed upon a sum- 
mary of the consequences to Spain — and, it 
may be added, to France — of a like neglect, 

Retrospect and Prospect 1 3 

had caught Mr. Scudder's attention, and he 
wrote to know whether I could give the 
Atlantic a paper upon the following general 
argument. " The centre of maritime opera- 
tions has shifted once from the Mediterranean 
to the Atlantic. It may pass in the distant 
future (my italics) to the Pacific. Meanwhile, 
would not the completion of a canal, taken 
with the British movements at the terminal 
of the Canadian Pacific, the occidentalizing of 
Japan, and the growth of Australasia, im- 
mensely quicken the process? and, if so, will 
not the Pacific Coast of our country become 
a far more important factor in our historical 
development than it has been ? " It will be 
observed that Mr. Scudders suggestion, con- 
sciously or unconsciously to himself, tran- 
scended the bounds of United States' interests, 
and embraced in its scope the politics of the 

The canal as yet is not, though it has 
very measurably advanced through the tedious 
stages that precede undertakings the impor- 
tance of which is rather national than corporate, 
and which therefore do not find their support 
in private enterprise ; but how much of what 

14 Retrospect and Prospect 

is here outlined has passed from the realm of 
speculation to that of action? and how little 
distant does that future now appear as com- 
pared to the anticipations of 1890? In writing 
on these themes in those days one felt that, 
while the chain of reasoning was eminently 
logical, yet there was a lack of solid foundation; 
that though argumentation were sound, premise 
was perhaps mistaken ; and that when indulg- 
ing in such forecasts one was in the fantastic 
sphere familiarized to us by Mr. Edward 
Bellamy and others. But what events have 
since happened, bringing the abstract con- 
ceptions of theorists and extremists, as they 
then seemed, down to earth in very concrete 
realization ! What once were visions are now 
accepted as solid present matters of course by 
our very practical nation. They have almost 
ceased to excite vivid interest, because of a 
familiarity which eliminates surprise. The 
condition, however, if no longer novel, is one 
so substantial that it can never again in our 
day pass out of sight, or out of national con- 

Since Mr. Scudder wrote, the occidentaliza- 
tion of Japan, in methods although not in 

Retrospect and Prospect 1 5 

national spirit, — which changes much more 
slowly, — has been fully demonstrated to an 
astonished world by the war of 1894 with 
China. It is one of the incidents of the clos- 
ing nineteenth century. To this achievement 
in the military sphere, in the practice of war 
which Napoleon called the science of barba- 
rians, must be added the development of civil 
institutions that has resulted in the concession 
to Japan of all international dignity and privi- 
lege; and consequently of a control over the 
administration of justice among foreigners 
within her borders, not heretofore obtained by 
any other Oriental State. It has thus become 
evident that the weight of Japan in the inter- 
national balances depends not upon the quality 
of her achievement, which has been shown to 
be excellent, but upon the gross amount of 
her power. Moreover, while in wealth and 
population, with the resources dependent upon 
them, she may be deficient, — though rapidly 
growing, — her geographical position relatively 
to the Eastern centre of interest, and her ad- 
vantage of insularity, go far to compensate such 
defect. These confer upon her as a factor in 
the Eastern problem an influence resembling 

1 6 Retrospect and Prospect 

in kind, if not equalling in degree, that which 
Great Britain has held and still holds in the 
international relations centring around Europe, 
the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean. 

Yet the change in Japan, significant as it 
is and influential upon the great problem of 
the Pacific and Asia, is less remarkable and 
less important than that which has occurred 
in the United States. If in the Orient a 
nation may be said to have been born in a day, 
even so the event is less sudden and less revo- 
lutionary than the conversion of spirit and of 
ideals — the new birth — which has come over 
our own country. In this are evident a rapid- 
ity and a thoroughness which bespeak impulse 
from an external source, rather than any con- 
scious set process of deliberation, of self-deter- 
mination within, such as has been that of Japan 
in her recognition and adoption of material 
improvements forced upon her attention in 
other peoples. No man or group of men can 
pretend to have guided and governed our 
people in the adoption of a new policy, the 
acceptance of which has been rather instinc- 
tive — I would prefer to say inspired — than 
reasoned. There is just this difference be- 

Retrospect and Prospect 1 7 

tween Japan and ourselves, the two most 
changed of peoples within the last half-century. 
She has adopted other methods; we have re- 
ceived another purpose. The one conversion 
is material, the other spiritual. When we 
talk about expansion we are in the realm of 
ideas. The material addition of expansion — 
the acreage, if I may so say — is trivial com- 
pared with our previous possessions, or with 
the annexations by European states within a 
few years. The material profit otherwise, the 
national gain to us, is at best doubtful. What 
the nation has gained in expansion is a regen- 
erating idea, an uplifting of the heart, a seed 
of future beneficent activity, a going out of 
self into the world to communicate the gift it 
has so bountifully received. 

In this connection, and in emphatic contrast 
of past with present, how very apt is the ex- 
pression of the French admiral, our " little 
corner," — the Jack Horner of nations. How 
accurately did the phrase then represent our 
own estimate, and that of the outer world, 
concerning our political and international ex- 
posure, responsibilities, and duties, in days 
when the ideas, imperialism and anti-imperial- 

1 8 Retrospect and Prospect 

ism, had scarcely received formulation. I re- 
member that imperialism had not long before 
been associated in my mind with certain vague 
impressions of Mr. Blaine and his supposed 
projects. As far as my own views went, I 
might say I was up to 1885 traditionally an 
anti-imperialist; but by 1890 the study of the 
influence of sea power and its kindred expan- 
sive activities upon the destiny of nations had 
converted me, and my new faiths, thus origi- 
nated, colored the first of my writings, as they 
have continued to do the rest. 

The natural tendency of the line of thought 
which leads up to the appreciation of sea 
power and to the vision of expansion of 
national influences — rather than of national 
possessions — when acting upon a person in- 
heriting Anglo-Saxon political traditions, is in 
commercial matters towards freedom of trade. 
Mr. Blaine, a protectionist by antecedents and 
by party affiliation, as his mind expanded to 
embrace the idea of an American system, in- 
evitably moved on to modify the idea of pro- 
tection to that of reciprocity. Reciprocity is 
far from being free trade ; but in principle it 
is nearer to that than to protection. Reci- 

Retrospect and Prospect 1 9 

procity has abandoned the view-point of exclu- 
sive interest, which is the citadel of protection, 
to embrace that of mutual benefit, the corner- 
stone upon which the advocates of freedom of 
trade rest their argument. 

The beneficiaries of protection see this 
clearly enough, as is shown by their recent 
capture of the Reciprocity Convention and 
renewed proclamation of their favorite dogma. 
The fate of the measures proposed for Cuban 
relief, in the session that has passed since this 
article was first written, is probably an indica- 
tion in the same direction. But protection is 
essentially a defensive measure, and in all 
struggles, in commerce as in war, it is not de- 
fensive action but offensive — conquest, expan- 
sion — which ultimately wins. It is in truth 
this factor of offence, shown in the activity of 
the American mind, in the energy with which 
it carries ideas into practice and in the flexibility 
which readily embraces improvement, that has 
won the superiority which enables us latterly 
to invade the markets of the world. The 
credit is claimed for protection, and is too 
easily yielded because the coincidence of our 
advance with the protective system confuses 

20 Retrospect and Prospect 

thought ; but it is easy to see that, left to itself 
alone, the assurance of an adequate market — 
the secured home market — removes that ne- 
cessity which is the mother of invention, the 
necessity which competition imposes. Ameri- 
can inventive aptitude and American energy 
have triumphed over the enervating influence 
of the protection that would and long did 
restrain them from efficient action without their 
own borders, and in so doing hindered that de- 
velopment of sea power, commercial and naval, 
which expansion, material and moral, requires. 
Reciprocity, increased freedom of movement, is 
the logical corollary of expansion, which itself 
is but increase of scope and power to act. 

It is, therefore, not a disconnected feature 
of the situation that reciprocity is no longer 
the idea of the few, but has assumed a con- 
spicuous place in the thought of a party and of 
a leader — President McKinley — whose very 
names have been synonymous with protection. 
It is but another aspect of that mysterious, 
subtle influence, already vaguely felt in the 
early years of the last decade of the nineteenth 
century, and then, before its end, bursting 
suddenly into life and taking definite form in 

I \ 

Retrospect and Prospect 2 1 

the acceptance of national expansion — terri- 
torial, political, naval, commercial. In every 
one of these aspects we find not merely develop- 
ment, but extension ; not merely growth from 
what has been, but the grafting on of that 
which before found no place in our national 
conceptions. It resembles the breach of con- 
tinuity between the middle ages and modern 
times. Our development on former lines has 
reached into maturity and, unless renewed by 
fresh influence, would pass into decadence ; 
that which now succeeds it is new life, not new 
growth. In the Philippines, Porto Rico, and 
Hawaii, we have territorial expansion. They, 
as well as Cuba, require us to constitute and 
establish political relations of a kind not here- 
tofore admitted as compatible with our scheme 
of existence, — in short, expansion of political 
thought. These changed conditions have ne- 
cessarily entailed naval expansion; and there 
can be little doubt that they will also imper- 
ceptibly — perhaps the protectionist may say 
" insidiously " — promote reciprocity of trade, 
expansion of commercial thought, with the 
logical consequences that follow the admission 
of a new principle. 

2 2 Retrospect and Prospect 

Mr. Scudder named my first article, " The 
United States Looking Outward." It was 
particularly apt, for it exactly described the 
national attitude then. We were looking, but 
we had not got beyond that point where a baby 
vaguely follows with its eyes something which 
has caught its attention but not entered its 
understanding. Yet I have felt it significant, 
then and now, that in casting round for a start- 
ing point I, with all my professional preposses- 
sions naturally maritime and military, should 
have opened my theme, not by a discussion of 
the naval or strategic situation, but by indicat- 
ing the essential feebleness of a commercial 
policy which was primarily — nay wholly — de- 
fensive, and in which aggression, expansion, 
found no place. I quoted joyfully Mr. Blaine's 
words, " It is not an ambitious destiny for so 
great a country to manufacture only what we 
can consume, or produce only what we can 
eat ; " and I had pleasure in likening the ex- 
travagances of the then recent tariff legislation 
to Napoleon's Continental system, — a proph- 
ecy by implication which it must be admitted 
has not yet received fulfilment. 

There has, however, been realized so much of 

Retrospect and Prospect 2 3 

the other indications of the future in that article, 
so much beyond what I dared to expect in my 
time, that I am not without hope that herein 
also I may live to see beneficial results. This 
paper some half-dozen years later was gath- 
ered into a book with a series of seven others 
on kindred topics, all falling under the general 
head of arguments for expansion ; not, indeed, 
specific in detail, but I think not without clear- 
ness in the enunciation of principles governing 
its general direction and character. The very 
enumeration of the successive titles has par- 
ticular suggestion to those interested in the 
general subject, as bearing upon the gradual 
expansion of the nation's thought, the gradual, 
though very rapid, development of policy; be- 
cause in none save one, and that the last of 
all, was the article prompted by myself. In 
each case, as in the first, it was elicited by 
the request of the editors, whose perceptions 
were quickened by their need to watch the 
trend of events and provide the public with 
matter concerning which its interest was 

Of course, naval officers, moving round the 
world, talking with its inhabitants in various 

24 Retrospect and Prospect 

localities and afterward bringing the various 
ideas to the common exchange of the mess- 
table and of other professional intercourse, 
imbibe a good deal of information particularly 
pertinent to the question of expansion, needing 
only digestion and arrangement to have a use- 
fulness quite peculiar to itself. I was there- 
fore pretty full of matter/ and to this day 
remember the delightful ease of production 
due to that fact, as contrasted with some heart- 
breaking work done since. Nevertheless, for 
the reasons noted, the record of articles traces 
not my development, but the progress of na- 
tional awakening from 1890 to 1897; to the 
eve, that is, of the great year when old things 
passed away, and all things became new in the 
birth of a new national resolve, quickened into 
life by the crash of a falling empire and the 
devolution of its responsibilities upon our con- 
science. In some measure through the cir- 
cumstances of my profession, but chiefly 
through the solicitation of others, it fell to me, 
though by no means to me alone, to chronicle 
from time to time the stages of the antecedent 
process of preparation ; to note the advance of 
ideas, as step by step the editorial watchers saw 

Retrospect and Prospect 25 

that advance had been made, but needed defi- 
nition and formulation. 

As far as known to me, " The United States 
Looking Outward " attracted no special atten- 
tion in any quarter. The only comment I can 
now recall was by, I think, a Protectionist sheet, 
to the effect that it seemed to be an argument 
for free trade. This critic apparently had not 
got beyond the first two pages. Yet the other 
topics, incidentally touched or more fully de- 
veloped, need only to be named in order to 
show the most casual reader of to-day the im- 
portant possibilities involved in the external 
objects which demanded the consideration of 
the United States in 1890. Samoa; Hawaii; 
German commercial and colonial push in the 
Caroline and other islands near the Philippines, 
which the empire has since acquired by pur- 
chase ; the progress of German influence in 
Central and South America, notably in the 
southern province of Brazil ; the increasing 
importance of the Pacific and the effects upon 
it of an isthmian canal ; the political wisdom 
of maintaining with Great Britain a cordial un- 
derstanding, approaching cooperation, though 
distinctly rejecting the idea of alliance; the 

26 Retrospect and Prospect 

question of purchase by European powers of 
stations in the West Indies, such as the Danish 
St. Thomas and the Dutch Cura9ao; the 
strategic features of the Gulf of Mexico and 
the Caribbean Sea, with the transcendent mili- 
tary value of Cuba and Jamaica in that connec- 
tion. As regards these external points the 
United States was perhaps looking outward, 
but she evidently was not, as a nation, taking 
notice ; and my remarks that " whether they 
will or no, Americans must now begin to look 
outwards," rested upon the necessities of the 
case as set forth, not upon any certain evidence 
of such watchfulness begun. 

The first really arousing event occurred 
where naval officers had long recognized the 
most critical of our external interests; the one 
where political change of condition detrimen- 
tal to our military security was most likely to 
occur, and to be allowed by default. The 
islands and mainland of America were fairly 
covered from serious aggression by national 
susceptibility, pointed in the phrase " the 
Monroe Doctrine." What the doctrine was, 
was perhaps not very clearly understood, but it 
was a good war-cry and might be depended on 

Retrospect and Prospect 2 7 

to serve its turn, although the experience 
of generations had shown it impotent to insure 
naval expansion adequate to enforce its asser- 
tion. Hawaii, however, could not be construed 
to fall under the Monroe Doctrine; and, al- 
though many men in the country appreciated 
its consequence to us, it was not certain that 
the people generally would sustain an active 
policy based upon the need of our predominance 

It is not necessary to recall in detail the 
occurrences in Hawaii at the end of 1892, 
which led to the treaty of annexation sent to 
the Senate by President Harrison, and with- 
drawn upon the change of administration by 
President Cleveland. What then occurred was 
the outcome of conditions which had led me in 
my first article to say, " At this moment inter- 
nal troubles are imminent in the Sandwich 
Islands, where it should be our fixed determi- 
nation to allow no foreign influence to equal 
our own." The submittal and withdrawal of 
the treaty in rapid succession demonstrated the 
doubtful attitude of national opinion in 1893, 
just as the annexation of five years later showed, 
not growth, but conversion. Nevertheless I 

28 Retrospect and Prospect 

have always felt the first abortive movement to 
have been the more conspicuous landmark. 
Though without result, it was the awakening ; 
too late to seize the current opportunity, but not 
so late as to be unprepared for the events which 
the near future was to bring. 

It may profitably be noted that the contrary 
decisions of the two administrations in this 
matter were prophetic of party fortunes. In 
the face of an emergency such as in 1893 arose 
in Hawaii, with its extravagantly mixed popu- 
lation, foreign not only in extraction, but in 
sentiment and allegiance, a political party which 
held that our action was to be controlled by a 
count of heads among them was evidently un- 
able to deal with impending questions. I do 
not pretend to have foreseen the events that 
ensued between 1893 an d 1898; but it was 
clear enough in 1892 that we had to look out 
into the Pacific and toward China. We could 
never act there efficiently with our intellects 
manacled by a traditionalism which saw in 
the population of Hawaii a capacity for self- 
determination like that of the Pilgrims, and 
which failed to comprehend that Hawaii was an 
outpost of the utmost value in the Pacific, for 

Retrospect and Prospect 29 

the tenure of which, in the rapid decay of the 
aboriginal population, East and West were 
already striving. 

This Hawaiian business drew from me, by 
request from the Forum, of which Mr. Walter 
H. Page was then editor, my second article, 
" Hawaii and Our Sea Power ; " to which suc- 
ceeded almost immediately an invitation from 
the Atlantic to treat the question of the isthmus 
and its canal from the same point of view. The 
latter of itself, coming so quickly, indicates how 
the former affair had waked the people up, not 
to Hawaii alone, but to the broader issues of 
which Hawaii only happened by special circum- 
stances to become the exponent. I do not think 
I erred then in saying, in the first of these 
articles, with reference to Mr. Harrison's treaty, 
" The United States now finds herself com- 
pelled to answer a question — to make a deci- 
sion — not unlike and not less momentous 
than that required of the Roman Senate when 
the Mamertine garrison invited it to occupy 
Messina, and so to abandon the hitherto tra- 
ditional policy which had confined the ex- 
pansion of Rome to the Italian peninsula." 
"What is here involved is not so much a 

3<d Retrospect and Prospect 

particular action as a principle pregnant of 
great consequences." 

A reasonable regard for the patience of 
readers, and for the proprieties, limits me to 
mentioning simply the titles of the articles 
asked from me in the successive years 1894, 
1895, 1896, 1897; indicative not only in their 
particular subject, but in the very order of the 
series, of the awakening consciousness of the 
people, reflected in the attentive minds of 
editors. They were, " The Possibilities of 
Anglo-American Reunion, " "The Future in 
Relation to American Naval Power," " Pre- 
paredness for Naval War," and " A Twentieth 
Century Outlook." 

The last decade of the century carried the 
outward look on from the Isthmus and Hawaii, 
and from the naval preparations essential to 
maintaining the nation's requirements, as form- 
ulated in the Monroe Doctrine and evident in 
the conditions of the Pacific, to consider the 
general outward movement of the European 
world, evinced in the new era of colonization 
and the search for naval stations which had 
recently begun. This impulse, I believe, will 
hereafter be recognized as the chief among 

Retrospect and Prospect 3 1 

those transmitted by the nineteenth century 
to its successor. Viewed with the new and 
significant restlessness among the Oriental 
peoples, aroused at length, by intimate contact 
with Europeans, from the torpor and change- 
lessness of ages — an awakening of which the 
occidentalizing of Japan is merely the most 
conspicuous incident — this is the significant 
feature of the opening century, that should 
direct the attention of our people in external 
policy. This European movement has three 
principal fields: the Levant, — in which Egypt 
may for convenience be included, — Africa, and 
Asia. Though locally Asiatic, the Levant is a 
European interest, pure and simple ; and Africa, 
in relation to world politics, is but an annex of 
Europe, geographically as well as, now, by pre- 
emption. Eastern Asia, however, and China 
especially, with all its immense possibilities, 
stands over against us, demanding our most 
careful and constant thought; all the more 
because there would appear to be a disposition 
in some quarters to question our right of inter- 
est. In a Parliamentary blue book published 
some eighteen months ago with reference to 
the incipient troubles in China which after- 

3 2 Retrospect and Prospect 

ward became so acute, the Russian ambassador 
at Peking is mentioned as saying to his British 
colleague that only Russia and Great Britain 
had serious interests in China. We shall not 
err greatly, I imagine, in believing that Great 
Britain does not share this sentiment. 

As a matter of national decision Hawaii is 
already past history, and the Monroe Doctrine 
seems even now to be approaching a condition 
of general silent acquiescence, which, if realized, 
will give to it also the quality of permanence that 
distinguishes the past from the present. The 
living external issue of the present and the 
future, the field for us alive with multifold possi- 
bilities and uncertainties, is Eastern Asia; so 
far in 1901 have we travelled, in the eight years 
that began by seeing even Hawaii rejected and 
have ended with the Philippines possessed. The 
elements of the situation in China, as determi- 
native of national watchfulness, may be stated 
as follows. The great stream and valley of 
the Yangtse Kiang is the natural focus of trade 
for the greater and richer part of the empire, 
which it divides roughly into two halves. It is 
navigable continuously by steamers for a thous- 
and miles, and for a great part of that distance 

Retrospect and Prospect 33 

by sea-going vessels, including large ships of 
war. Here, therefore, is the great command- 
ing interest of commercial nations and of mari- 
time Powers. Here, and here only, apart from 
the seaboard itself, can they effectually assert 
their force to control infringement upon China s 
right of self-direction, and to support the 
Chinese themselves in their resistance which, 
unaided, has not been able to retain Manchuria. 
The maritime Powers are several ; but of them 
France has seen fit to identify her policy with 
Russia and cannot be depended upon, even if 
her irritable national sensitiveness permitted 
other peoples to count upon the reasonableness 
of her action in any particular case. Regard 
for the interests of China, of the commercial 
world at large, and of our own people, there- 
fore impel us to cooperation with Great Brit- 
ain, the greatest of naval states; for her aim, as 
a free-trade nation with large carrying trade, 
must necessarily be to increase the volume of 
commerce in a country like China, and to sup- 
port her against the encroachments of another 
people, of whose policy exclusive trade is a 
dominant factor. For the same reasons, though 
to a less degree, we find ourselves impelled to 


34 Retrospect and Prospect 

act in this matter in unison with Germany and 
Japan. As the world is now balanced, the 
British Empire is in external matters our 
natural though not our formal ally. 

The canal, Hawaii, and the Philippines are 
valuable to us as positions even more than as 
possessions. In the problem of Eastern Asia, 
still in an early stage of its solution and of 
doubtful issue, they are important as facilita- 
ting our access to the seas of China and to the 
valley of the Yangtse, and as furnishing terri- 
torial support to our action there. Intrinsically, 
their future now presents but few elements of 
anxiety. In the grave uncertainties surround- 
ing China, it is along the great river, of which 
Shanghai is the chief port, that the interest of 
the western world centres. From it our eyes 
should never wander. There rests the centre 
of Chinese power as susceptible of future 
development, and there it should receive firm 
support from us, disregardful of the place 
where the Chinese Court may see fit to estab- 
lish its abode. Peking, as has been clearly 
shown, is too easily controlled from the land 
side. Partition is one thing which we may 
well reject; but it would be very different 

Retrospect and Prospect 35 

to see established along the course of the 
Yangtse a native Power strong enough to 
resist dictation from the capital, and, if need 
be, strong enough also to resist those by whom 
the capital may be oppressed. 







January, 1902. 

AT this time, while naval manoeuvres are 
attracting attention among the people of 
the United States, it is pertinent to point out 
that it is commonly, but mistakenly, supposed 
that the present necessity for naval enlarge- 
ment rests upon the acquisition of oversea 
territories, as a consequence of the war with 
Spain. The error is natural, for undoubtedly 
the war convinced the American people of the 
advantage — nay, the necessity — of a great 
navy, and so led to the increase we are wit- 
nessing; but the necessity was approaching 
unobserved, and would have come upon the 
nation unawares and unprepared, but for the 
fortunate intervention of the war, and its dem- 
onstration of the usefulness of navies. 

We have the highest military authority for 
saying that the best and only sure form of de- 

4-0 Conditions Determining the Naval 

fence is to take the offensive, or at least to be 
evidently ready so to do at brief notice. The 
navy is essentially and pre-eminently a force 
that thus acts, in virtue of the mobility which 
is its prime quality; and it is scarcely neces- 
sary to argue that the more wide-spread the 
interests open to attack, the more valuable in 
this sense the navy is, and the more numerous 
and powerful must it be. So long as the 
United States had no external possessions, it 
was comparatively easy to blind people to the 
usefulness of a navy, or to the necessity for it. 
A navy for coast defence only was then a plaus- 
ible, though deceitful, cry; and it was a very 
easy further step to say that fortifications, sta- 
tionary land defences, were cheaper and more 
effective. On the narrow ground of passive 
defence, that is true; therefore, ignorance of 
military principles being characteristic of man- 
kind generally, and of Americans perhaps par- 
ticularly, the need of a mobile force to act 
offensively could not obtain recognition. 

It is not the least of the advantages derived 
from the new possessions that this condition of 
the public mind can exist no longer. It was 

Expansion of the United States 4 1 

very soundly argued, by the American oppo- 
nents of the expansion which has been realized 
in the last decade of the nineteenth century, 
that transmarine acquisitions would be so 
many new exposed points, to be supported by 
sea only, not by land, as the continental terri- 
tory can. They were very right, and this is 
very true ; the flaw in their argument, as well 
as the beam in the eye of the American public, 
which prevented it from seeing clearly, was the 
failure to note that, even when not possessing 
a square foot of territory without its borders, 
there were manifold interests abroad, assailable 
by a superior navy, and only to be protected 
by such display of force as should make it not 
worth while to arouse the nation to action. 

The argument of the opponents of territorial 
expansion, even within moderate limits, and 
with due regard to locality and consequent 
utility in the positions acquired, was thus 
plausible, and was deplorably successful ; but 
it was fallacious. It adduced a sound military 
reason, — the increased exposure, — but wholly 
ignored qualifying considerations of the most 
serious character, reversive of conclusions. It 
may with much more certainty be now alleged, 

42 Conditions Determining the Naval 

and the assertion can be supported to the point 
of demonstration, that the acquisitions of re- 
cent years, despite the additional requirement 
of their defence imposed upon the United 
States, have not necessitated any increase of 
naval force beyond that which would have been 
imperatively demanded at the present time, 
had they never passed into American hands. 
More still, they have lessened the burden of 
purely naval increase, which but for them 
would have been necessary ; for by the tenure 
of them, and due development of their re- 
sources, the navy itself receives an accession 
of strength, an augmented facility of move- 
ment, by resting upon strong positions for 
equipment and repair, — upon bases, to use the 
military term, — in several parts of the world 
where national interests demand naval pro- 
tection of the kind already mentioned ; namely, 
readiness to take the offensive instantly. 

Facilities of this character add a percentage 
of value to a given mobile force, military or 
naval, for they by so much increase its power 
and its mobility. This percentage may be 
difficult of precise definition as to amount, 

Expansion of the United States 43 

but it none the less exists. That coal can be 
obtained near at hand, plentifully, and with 
certainty; that ships can remain in readiness, 
and in security, near the possible scene of op- 
erations ; that they can be repaired there, in- 
stead of returning to the United States ; all 
these conditions, which the new possessions 
will afford, enable the work on the spot to be 
done by fewer ships. Furthermore, by their 
storage facilities, by their accumulated and 
natural resources, they diminish the immediate 
dependence upon home by a long chain of 
communications, which is the great drain on 
all military operations. 

Thus, according to the particular conditions, 
one ship may do the work of two, or three ships 
of five, or perhaps nine of ten ; but, be the pro- 
portion more or less, the gain in efficiency 
means, as such gain always does, smaller num- 
bers and therefore less expense. When a 
battleship in war time runs upon an un- 
charted rock, as the Oregon did a year ago 
in the China Seas, it makes an immense differ- 
ence to an admiral, and to the operations in 
hand, whether she can be repaired at a dis- 
tance of five hundred miles, or of five thou- 

44 Conditions Determining the Naval 

sand. The case is the same with minor repairs, 
and with the renewal of coal, one of the great- 
est of naval anxieties. For instance, it would 
be difficult to exaggerate the value of Guanta- 
namo, only fifty miles from Santiago de Cuba, 
to the American fleet off the latter port, which 
otherwise had to coal in the open, or depend 
upon a base many hundred miles away. 

It may be advisable here to notice passingly 
an argument at times maintained, and often 
advanced during recent discussions concerning 
the annexation of the Philippines, that, while 
such bases of naval action are intrinsically 
advantageous, there attaches to them no ex- 
pediency of holding adjacent territory in polit- 
ical tenure. The United States therefore, so 
it was urged, for the security of her naval situa- 
tion in eastern waters would require in the 
Philippines no more than a navy yard. From 
the military point of view this is wholly in- 
accurate. Any military permanent station, 
land fortress or naval arsenal, gains immeasur- 
ably in strength from the support of a friendly 
region in which it is situated, because of the 
contribution to its resources and the distance 
at which attack is held. The impressiveness 

Expansion of the United States 45 

of the word " isolation, " which we all instinc- 
tively feel, testifies to this condition. Nor is it 
conclusive against the military argument that 
the friendliness be of a passive or reluctant 
character, as of a population subjected to mili- 
tary control. This consideration is indeed 
material to the general conduct of a war, for 
the force thus engaged in insuring submission 
is withdrawn from that available for other 
operations; but so long as it is effective in 
compelling or inducing the co-operation of the 
inhabitants, either as peaceful workmen and 
agriculturists, or more positively in the field, 
the particular fortress, land or sea, is far 
stronger than it could be if surrounded by 
territory under alien government, even though 

Extent of territory is a real factor in military 
strength, and for this reason a small island is 
decisively less valuable than a large one. It 
is a distinct weakness to Gibraltar that it is 
backed by a country wholly foreign, though 
probably not belligerent ; and Malta, if severed 
from a predominant navy, would find its in- 
trinsic power inadequate to prolonged endur- 
ance. On the other hand, places on the coast 

46 Conditions Determining the Naval 

of the United States, or of Australia, or New 
Zealand, though individually weak from a 
purely military standpoint, derive great in- 
crease of resistant force, and still more of pro- 
ductive energy, — a large element in military 
offensive efficiency, — because in the midst of 
a friendly and industrious community* The 
questions of resources and of support, both 
very important factors in military vigor, turn 
largely upon this one consideration. 

This is not, in itself, an argument for large 
annexations, or indefinite territorial expansion. 
These, if desirable, rest upon reasons other 
than military. We are dealing here with a 
purely military consideration, and supporting it 
by military argument, which, however, cannot 
be pressed to the extent of supporting an action 
political in origin. The military argument 
amounts simply to this : that a moderate num- 
ber of such bases, suitably chosen in view of 
their position and resources, strengthen a mili- 
tary or naval situation, and thereby enable 
fewer men or fewer ships to do the necessary 
work ; but it must be at once qualified by the 
other perfectly familiar military maxim, that 
the multiplication of such bases, as soon as you 

Expansion of the United States 47 

pass the limits of reasonable necessity, becomes 
a source of weakness, multiplying exposed 
points, and entailing division of force. It is 
not even a matter of indifference that you have 
too many; it is a positive injury. Conse- 
quently, the necessity of naval bases to efficient 
naval action cannot by itself be made into an 
argument for indefinite expansion. 

Such oversea expansion as the United States 
has so far made has not been primarily for 
military purposes. Incidentally, it has contrib- 
uted to naval power, and it has not as yet 
transcended the limit of utility to that end. 
What has been already gained is useful, either 
directly or indirectly ; the increase of exposure, 
as yet, does not equal the increase in strength. 
It is, of course, very possible that considerations 
of political or commercial expediency, or even 
necessity, might lead to acquisitions, the 
exposure and burden of which would find no 
compensation in increase of naval "strength, or 
of general national military security. The 
justification of such measures, if taken, must 
rest on other than military or naval rea- 
sons, and would not concern this argument ; 

48 Conditions Determining the Naval 

but in fact no such undue expansion has yet 

The march of events, not in the United 
States only, but over the world at large, not of 
military or naval events chiefly, but of political 
events, events economical and commercial, has 
brought about a necessity for large navies; 
for navies much increased over the standard of 
twenty years ago. This is now universally 
recognized. Of this course of events in those 
two decades, and their result to-day, the war 
with Spain, which led directly or indirectly to 
the acquisition of every foot of insular territory 
possessed by the United States, is simply one 
incident; and that an incident rather discon- 
nected, something of a side issue, though one 
most timely for the welfare of the^ nation. 

Had that war not occurred, there is no 
reason to believe that the mighty events which 
have transpired in Africa, Egypt, the Levant, 
and China, would not have happened ; still less 
that there would not have been the immense 
commercial developments, which, if less strik- 
ing, are even more momentous, and more 
influential at this moment upon the policy of 
nations. Issues and conditions which are mov- 

Expansion of the United States 49 

ing the world would have been as they are had 
the distress of Cuba never compelled interven- 
tion. The difference now would have been that 
the United States would be without Porto Rico, 
Hawaii, and the Philippines ; without reserved 
rights in Cuba, the key of the West Indies and 
Gulf of Mexico ; and that she would not have 
received the impulse, which the war and its 
consequent acquisitions most timely gave, to the 
building of the navy towards a point necessary 
to meet the demands of a political and com- 
mercial future, which in any case would have 
arrived, and, but for that war, have found the 
nation unprepared. 

The general strenuous impulse of the great 
civilized states of the world, to find and to estab- 
lish markets and commercial relations outside 
their own borders and their own people, has 
led to multifold annexations, and to commer- 
cial and naval aggressions. In these the United 
States has had no part, but they have consti- 
tuted a political situation that immensely in- 
creases her political and commercial anxieties, 
and consequently her naval responsibilities ; 
for, as interests of this kind are outside the 
North American continent, it is upon the navy 


50 Conditions Determining the Naval 

that their support rests. This external impulse 
of the commercial nations is of two-fold char- 
acter. First, there is the perfectly legitimate 
and unobjectionable form of commercial com- 
petition, in open field and without favor ; but 
there is, besides, the effort to extend and sustain 
commercial advantage by the extension of politi- 
cal power, either by controlling influence or by 
actual annexation, under cover of either of 
which the commercial system of the particular 
country obtains favored conditions, injurious to 
others, from special privilege all the way up to 
a practically exclusive market. The history of 
the past twenty or thirty years abounds in such 
instances, reversive of the course of trade, even 
to the destruction at times of a well-established 

Much of this politico-commercial movement 
has occurred in regions where the United 
States has been compelled, by her recognized 
traditional policy, to abstain from intervention, 
or even remonstrance. The politics are none 
of our business, and the resultant commercial 
inconvenience, if it touch us, has to be ac- 
cepted. This applies to Europe generally ; to 
Africa, which, both by position and now by 

Expansion of the United States 5 1 

annexation, is an appendage of Europe; and 
probably also to those parts of Asia commonly 
known as the Levant, which by juxtaposition 
are European in interest. The case is very 
different in South America, in Eastern Asia, 
and in the Pacific. From interest in none of 
these is the United States excluded by the 
Monroe Doctrine and its corollaries, by which 
she simply defines her policy to be hands- 
off in matters of purely European concern; 
while by express declaration political interfer- 
ence in South America, of a character to 
intrude European political control, will be 
resented as directly injurious to American 

As regards the Pacific and China, the move- 
ment there, and especially in the latter, has 
been lately so much before the public that it 
is unnecessary to recall details. It is obvious, 
however, that where the commercial interests 
at stake are so great, and political conditions 
so uncertain, the desire to secure commercial 
opportunity will lead countries that possess 
force into a dangerous temptation to use it for 
the extension of their influence. Therefore, 
unless prepared to maintain the national rights, 

52 Conditions Determining the Naval 

either singly or in combination with others, 
backed by force at hand, the United States 
may find her people excluded, more or less, 
by the encroachment of rivals. 

The case in South America is even more 
serious ; for political interference there not only 
may injure the nation commercially, but would 
certainly dishonor it, in face of its clearly 
avowed policy. It must be remembered that 
this extension of commerce by political pres- 
sure is a leading element in the spirit of the 
times ; and, when such a spirit is looking watch- 
fully for a field in which to act, one so fruitful 
and so promising as South America can secure 
exemption only by a display of power to resist, 
which South America itself does not possess, 
and which the United States alone can supply. 

These are among the Leading conditions 
which necessitate the creation of a powerful 
navy by the United States, and they are quite 
independent of her relatively small external 
possessions, most valuable though these are 
from the naval point of view. She is con- 
fronted, in short, by a general movement of 
the nations, resting upon a spirit spread among 

Expansion of the United States 


their peoples, which seeks to secure commer- 
cial advantages in all quarters of the world ; 
peaceably, if may be, but, if not, by pressure. 
In this collision of interests, force will have a 
determining part, as it has in all periods of 
the world's history ; and force, in such remote 
localities, means necessarily naval force. It is 
upon the spread of this spirit and the action 
ensuing from it, that the necessity for a great 
navy rests, and not upon the fact of having 
assumed oversea charges. Porto Rico, Hawaii, 
the Philippines, and if there be any other 
acquisition at present, have not created the 
necessity; on the contrary, they have reduced 
the weight of the burden, by contributing to 
support it. 



November, 1901. 

WITHOUT seeking excessive refinement 
in definition, it may profitably be re- 
called that the common colloquial use of the 
word " prestige " overlooks its primary significa- 
tion, which involves the idea of illusion, or 
even of delusion. When employing it in ordi- 
nary speech we do not think of a veil conceal- 
ing truth, but of a solid basis of achievement 
or power which underlies present acknowl- 
edged reputation. Thus the word is practically 
affirmative, not negative ; it suggests actuality, 
not a mask. But for the very reason that 
prestige is popular impression, resting upon 
surface appearance assumed to be substantial 
fact, it is among the most uncertain of posses- 
sions ; upon a pedestal to-day, in the dust to- 
morrow, with the facile fickleness noted in 

58 The Influence of the South African War 

populaces. When to this source of error in 
the adoption of opinion is added the misguid- 
ing influence of strong prejudices, when mis- 
understanding of conditions combines with bias 
of judgment, mutabilities of prestige may be 
both sudden and extreme. " Presto ! Change ! " 
and prestidigitator, are prominent and charac- 
teristic members of the volatile family to which 
prestige owes its birth. The decline of prestige 
may involve as much illusion as its growth ; 
therefore its value, while not to be denied, may 
easily be exaggerated. 

Prestige then does not necessarily corre- 
spond with fact, even moderately ; on the 
contrary, it is apt to be much in excess or 
much in defect. Nevertheless, it is a valuable 
possession; an asset which counts for a good 
deal in the reckoning of international balances. 
Accepted at its face value, and repeated in the 
street from man to man, it constitutes a mass of 
impression which finally affects even the more 
judicious and better-informed, and may become 
of weight in diplomatic action. Consequently, 
when impaired, it is worth the effort to restore 
it, and to bring it into conformity with material 
facts. These do not change either with the 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 59 

suddenness, or in the degree, to which mere 
moral effect is specially liable. 

Qualifying the word and its idea with the 
remarks so far made, the prestige of the British 
Empire has assuredly suffered diminution from 
the South African war. Men in the street, 
and the hurried writers of the press, have re- 
ceived an impression of bafflement, or even of 
failure, in holding which they support one 
another. From the very outset prepossession 
stood ready upon the Continent, and among 
many of the American people, not only to re- 
joice over British reverses, but to draw from 
them quick, disparaging conclusions, affecting 
prestige, by the easy process of forgetting fun- 
damental conditions and dwelling upon surface 
events. Precisely the same disposition was 
entertained towards the United States a year 
before, at the beginning of our war with Spain, 
as I had opportunity to observe by the experi- 
ence of dining in company with several diplo- 
mats in a European capital at the moment of 
the outbreak of hostilities. That the gratifica- 
tion of gloating over our defeats was confi- 
dently anticipated also is a matter of common 
notoriety. We were out of favor, and our 

60 The Influence of the South African War 

prestige was naturally low. The fortunate 
event of our war having at least not lowered 
it further, there is no necessity to inquire how 
far the original estimate corresponded with the 
facts. Of one thing, however, we may be sure ; 
that had temporary unsuccess attended us, the 
difficulties of our undertaking, which formed the 
basis of unfavorable prediction and were by no 
means small to a dispassionate judgment, would 
not in the least have qualified unfavorable criti- 
cism. Prejudice is a two-edged sword, and 
cuts both ways. So it has been in South 
Africa. The evident military difficulties gave 
hostile sentiment the basis on which to build 
prophecies of disaster; but having served that 
purpose, when it comes to comment and infer- 
ence, the difficulties no longer find place for 

The military conditions before and during 
the war, and now existing in South Africa, are 
so much matters of present remembrance that 
it is unnecessary to enumerate them at large. 
What can profitably be done is to select from 
them those which constitute the distinctive 
characteristics, differentiating this from other 
struggles, and yet at the same time enabling it 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 6 1 

to be in some measure classified; for such 
features suggest resemblances as well as differ- 
ences. The prominent facts, thus separated 
from less noteworthy surroundings, can then 
be brought to the test of criticism as to their 
positive influence in the present case, and also 
to comparison with other historical experiences. 
Whatever may be the prestige, in the strict 
sense of the word, of the British Empire, at 
home or abroad, its real meed of praise or 
blame depends upon the way it has met, and is 
meeting, these distinctive conditions. 

The characteristic elements of this war re- 
sulting from the permanent conditions, irre- 
spective of the conduct of the present hostilities, 
and anterior to their beginning, are (i) The 
remoteness of the British base of operations 
from the scene of fighting, contrasted with the 
nearness of the Boers; in other words, the 
length of the British lines of communication. 
(2) The nature and extent of the country over 
which operations had to be conducted. ( 3 ) The 
character of the hostile people ; including there- 
in the advantage which familiarity with a region 
and its conditions, especially when sparsely 
settled, undeveloped, and consequently imper- 

62 The Influence of the South African War 

fectly known, always gives to inhabitants over 
invaders. All three particulars, indeed, fall 
under the general head of communications, 
which, on the strategic side at least, dominate 
war. The nature and extent of the country 
affect materially the maintenance of commu- 
nications, their security and their rapidity. So 
also the native and acquired characteristics of 
the enemy act and react upon communications. 
If of extremely simple wants, capable of rapid 
movement, familiar with the country, surrounded 
by sympathizers, their own communications are 
relatively invulnerable, and to the same degree 
they are facilitated in attacking those of the 
invader. Roles are, in a measure, reversed; 
the offence is constantly on the defence for his 
communications, the defence on the offensive 
against them. 

These factors, onerously adverse to Great 
Britain, were and are permanent. To them 
must be added a present consideration, which 
existed from the beginning, but which it was 
then perhaps impossible to anticipate ; namely, 
the difficulty under which the British Govern- 
ment would be plated in dealing with partially 
organized forces maintaining insurrection rather 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 63 

than war ; with no organic social system be- 
hind them, and, from that very lack, without 
vital centres, or social articulations, at which 
to strike ; capable of indefinite subdivision and 
consequent elusiveness, due to the very low 
type of social and political cohesion which has 
been characteristic of the Boer peoples from 
their beginnings. When highly organized and 
complex, national vitality may be paralyzed 
without killing men; but where organization 
is defective, the same end cannot be quickly 
reached without a slaughter of individuals from 
which modern humanity rightfully revolts. 

Here has been the difficulty confronting the 
Empire since the end of the war proper. From 
the delay in solving it proceeds the present 
impairment of prestige, which, granting the 
idea of illusion inseparable from the word, is 
natural and to be expected. For many obvious 
reasons, the individual Boer, when caught, can- 
not be killed. Great Britain is limited to cap- 
ture and exportation ; processes indefinitely 
tedious, owing to the nature of the country 
and other causes before noticed, and further 
protracted by the necessity of diverting a huge 
fraction of the large available forces to the 

64 The Influence of the South African War 

protection of the communications. These 
stretch a thousand miles from the sea-board to 
the seat of war, and thence ramify throughout 
the extensive regions over which desultory and 
elusive fighting may spread. This burden is 
even greater than during regular hostilities, 
both because the lines are more disseminated, 
and because the evasive action of the small 
bands now in the field is harder to counteract 
than the efforts of large masses, compelled by 
their very size to consider their own com- 

The military operations of the war in South 
Africa may be divided into two principal and 
easily recognized stages. There is, first, that 
of regular hostilities, which terminated not long 
after the fall of Pretoria; to which succeeded 
the existing conditions of what is commonly 
called guerilla warfare. In the former, the 
British were confronted by large numbers, 
more or less organized, acting in masses, and 
representing a regular Government which had 
its staff of officials and local habitat. In the 
present embarrassing situation, the permanent 
natural factors (the nature of the country, and 
the racial characteristics of the opponents, with 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 65 

their consequent individual tendencies of ac- 
tion) remain much the same ; but the accidental 
temporary elements are changed. The Boer 
forces are no longer organized, in the sense of 
having a common centre of action, or a regular 
gradation of even military authority. They no 
longer act in masses, but are scattered in small 
bodies, much of whose immunity depends upon 
their faculty of melting away and subsequently 
reuniting ; and there is behind them no recog- 
nized and efficient civil government. On the 
civil side the Boer bands represent a past, not 
a present ; the organic society and government 
no longer exist. 

The conduct of the earlier stage of the war 
by the British, with its effect upon prestige, is 
first to be considered. Bearing in mind the 
respective distances of the antagonists from the 
seat of war, the outbreak of hostilities gave to 
the Boers the advantage, to the British the dis- 
advantage, of a surprise. That this is so is 
seen by considering how the case would have 
stood had the British Islands been where Cape 
Colony is. That larger organized forces were 
not assembled in South Africa at an early date 
will be differently criticised even by impartial 


66 The Influence of the South African War 

observers. It may at least be observed that, if 
injurious to the prestige of the Government on 
the score of unwise delay, it cannot at the 
same time be attributed to eagerness for war. 
Also, however viewed, this is chargeable to 
political calculation, not to military ineffi- 
ciency. But when war was at last resolved, it 
cannot, I think, be considered as less than ad- 
mirable that over 165,000 men, with the vast 
mass of warlike equipment, were transferred 
six thousand miles from the British Islands to 
South Africa in six months. Nor yet that, 
from the sea-coast, the same huge numbers 
and equipment were carried by single track 
railroads a thousand miles inland, there main- 
tained, and within eight months, not of their 
arrival in Africa, but of their earliest departure 
from England, had possession of the capitals 
of both their opponents, having driven them 
from position to position in a notoriously diffi- 
cult country, devoid alike of natural and of 
artificial resources. The numbers of the Brit- 
ish, doubtless, were fully adequate to this work. 
They were greatly superior to the Boers, but 
not, I think, to a N degree much exceeding that 
which any prudent military man would esti- 

Up07i the Prestige of the British Empire 67 

mate as absolutely necessary for such a task ; 
considering, that is, the character and extent 
of the country, the length of the communica- 
tions, and the general difficulties inherent in 
all invasions. 

I fail, therefore, to see that the ultimate 
results up to the fall of Pretoria, and during 
the subsequent disintegration of the Boer 
forces under continued pressure, are so unsatis- 
factory as in any way to constitute a reason for 
that diminution of credit which we call loss of 
prestige. During the operations which thus 
terminated, that is, during the process that pro- 
duced the results, there occurred numerous in- 
cidents; some attended by success, some by 
grave disaster. The latter chiefly require 
notice, for they are the food for criticism. 
The advance towards Kimberley was brought 
sharply to a standstill ; the fact being marked 
by the slaughter at Magersfontein, which we 
may say ought not to have been. It was not, 
however, the particular repulse that constituted 
the check, but the want of numbers, which 
showed that the advance had been premature. 
Almost simultaneously came the defeat at 
Colenso, which postponed the relief of Lady- 

68 The Influence of the South African War 

smith; and upon these two rebuffs followed 
the strain of national endurance, through the 
two months of painful uncertainty as to 
whether the isolated British garrisons could 
hold out. 

Now, I hold no brief to defend the advance 
on either line at the moment chosen. But I 
do feel very strongly that it is unreasonable to 
judge military operations carried on by repre- 
sentative governments on merely military 
grounds, leaving out of account the absolute 
necessity of convincing the people represented. 
The American General Grant certainly did 
not lack self-dependence or firmness, nor did 
his subordinate, Sherman, lack eminent military 
characteristics and acquirements; yet when 
Sherman remonstrated against the movement 
round Vicksburg, in 1863, on very sound mili- 
tary grounds of communications, Grant replied 
that to fall back to a new base for a secure line 
of communications would so dishearten the 
nation " that bases of supplies would be of no 
use ; neither men to hold them nor supplies to 
be put in them would be furnished." The con- 
clusion was perhaps extreme, but the remark 
has value. In countries where the voice of 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 69 

the people is mighty it cannot be disregarded, 
nor can the soldier so separate his military 
convictions from the popular sentiment as to 
neglect it wholly. To the utmost possible ex- 
tent he doubtless should act on strict military 
reason. Disastrous as the determination ap- 
peared to be for a time, I have always ap- 
plauded Whites holding on to Ladysmith, nor 
have I been able greatly to condemn the risk 
taken in remaining at Dundee until the neces- 
sity of evacuation was not only seen but dem- 
onstrated. For the same reason I hesitate to 
criticise Methuen's advance to the Modder, 
though it was shown to be premature by the 
long delay necessary after Magersfontein. 

In brief, therefore, while the attempts at ad- 
vance may have been premature, militarily con- 
sidered, they were almost unavoidable under 
the imperfectly understood difficulties of re- 
lieving Kimberley and Ladysmith. To hold 
advanced positions, and to push advance, were 
inevitable, if only to demonstrate the difficulties 
and the need of more men ; yet to see the 
effort of a great empire blocked by two small 
republics inevitably affected prestige. Failure, 
until redeemed, cannot but do so ; but, in fact, 

jo The Influence of the South African War 

there was no occasion for disheartenment had 
the circumstances been intelligently appre- 
ciated. I am not aware that in these main 
operations, up to the standstill in December, 
there was anything that impeached the general 
military character of the army. Mistakes in 
generalship I think there were. These affect the 
reputation of the general, but they should not 
that of the nation. Experience is universal 
that a very large percentage, probably a ma- 
jority, of able men, men of high promise both 
in character and acquirement, break down in 
chief command. The South African war is 
not in this respect different from others. I 
know that in our Civil War we had bitter disap- 
pointments ; and I believe that Dupont, who 
surrendered somewhat ignominiously at Baylen, 
in 1808, had stood very high in the esteem of 
Napoleon himself. Nevertheless, for lack of 
this correct appreciation, a merely personal 
defect is carried to the losing balance of na- 
tional prestige. 

There were, however, in both advances inci- 
dents of a character which have since too often 
recurred not to reflect upon the reputation of 
the army. Passing over questions involving 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 7 1 

the Commander-in-Chief, as being too essen- 
tially personal to warrant general conclusions, 
the inference prompted by the battle of Co- 
lenso, by the deadly surprise at Magersfontein, 
and by many subsequent episodes, is unques- 
tionably that of inadequacy, or of remissness 
in subordinate duties, which cannot be recon- 
ciled with reasonable requirements of efficiency. 
Taken singly, any one incident may be due to 
unexpected causes, or to some one person ; 
but the impression produced — and in speak- 
ing of prestige I necessarily deal with impres- 
sions — by the numerous surprises, and some 
surrenders, is that of a proportion of incom- 
petency in the grades of subordinate officers 
too large to be creditably accounted for. I 
have even heard surrenders attributed to decay 
in the fighting quality of the race ; than which 
imputation none can be more injurious to 
military prestige. This has appeared to me 
nothing short of absurd, in view of the abun- 
dance of good fighting that has been done ; 
and we Americans, as a nation courageous and 
warlike, but not military, have had experience 
enough of panic in troops badly officered to 
dismiss peremptorily any such suggestion. For 

J 2 The Influence of the South African War 

such discreditable episodes, however, the only 
one alternative solution is incompetent leader- 
ship; and when it is remembered that the 
leaders in these small affairs are the subordi- 
nates, and sometimes the principal subordi- 
nates, in large operations, the impression of 
dangerous unsoundness in the main body is 
deepened. In contemplating the question of 
their own acquirements, officers should re- 
member that failure on their part must thus 
react upon their troops at times, even to the 
accusation of cowardice. I confess that while 
I think the prevalent impression of incompe- 
tency among officers exaggerated, it does not 
seem to me unfounded. It errs by neglect to 
take due account of the mass of good work 
done ; but that is always the case with such 
criticism, and the loss of prestige which it 
asserts is not without reason in fact, though 
immoderate in terms. 

If this be so, the defect is precisely one that 
would be conspicuously felt when the war 
passed into its second stage, and on both sides 
took the form of wide dissemination in small 
bodies, which, however united in some general 
scheme, were locally self-dependent. This 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 73 

multiplication of small commands necessarily 
multiplies the chance of inefficiency betraying 
itself, and not improbably accounts for some 
mischances. On the other hand, a constant 
sifting process goes on, and dearly bought 
experience will remedy this evil. I have no 
doubt that the efficiency of the force under 
Lord Kitchener is double now what it was a 
year ago, both by such process of elimination 
and by the increase of facility which constant 
practice bestows even upon those previously 
well-equipped. There can scarcely be a cor- 
responding gain to the Boers, who already 
possessed the particular local aptitudes which 
the British have had to acquire. Of this the 
makers of prestige have probably taken too 
little account. 

Equally do they fail to take account of the 
grave difficulties which should qualify the sur- 
face impressions produced by the mere pro- 
longation of the trouble. The British Army 
in South Africa during eighteen months, practi- 
cally since the fall of Pretoria, has been engaged 
in a task analogous to that of which the United 
States Army during the past century has had 
large experience. Setting aside the savagery 

74 The Influence of the South African War 

in the practices of North American Indians, 
the Boers have much in common with them, as 
combatants. To the adaptation of methods to 
environment which distinguishes both, as it 
does natives usually, they have further brought 
the brain capacity of the white man ; and instead 
of the tribal tradition of the Indian, they have 
that of a known common history and of a 
national existence, which, although excessively 
loose and unorganized, furnishes a certain bond 
of cohesion. Concert of action and persistence 
are thereby attainable to a degree impossible to 
the Indians, ever prone to disintegration, and* 
fickle with the fickleness of the savage. In 
scope of design and intelligence of direction 
there is also no comparison. Let it be added 
that in both cases the methods of fighting are 
not external habits, assumed like a change of 
garments, or superinduced as training upon 
a recruit, but the outgrowth of surrounding 
circumstances and everyday life ; an evolution 
rather than a system, and marked therefore with 
a spontaneity, a facility, and a readiness, not to 
be attained offhand by imitators. As well might 
a coat be expected to rival the skin in adapting 
itself to the form and movements of the body. 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 7 5 

Forces of this character, acting within their 
usual environment, and unimpeded by consider- 
ations common to men of complex civilization, 
possess a power of injury and an elusiveness 
which are enormous ; to be matched only by 
their powerlessness for good, and for self- 
initiated progress in the civil order. To meet 
the conditions in South Africa — which, though 
not unparalleled in kind are perhaps unpre- 
cedented in degree, because the brains of white 
men are utilizing the capacities and immunities 
of the savage — are needed both adequate 
methods, probably somewhat original in char- 
acter, and also familiarity with the particular 
circumstances which practice alone confers. 
In this also, and for this reason, Kitchener's 
command must be much more competent now 
than it possibly could be a twelvemonth ago. 

Some very bad blunders are doubtless charge- 
able against the management of British detach- 
ments in the early and more regular part of the 
war — blunders against which the training of 
the officers should have been sufficient preven- 
tion ; but I cannot see so much discredit, as 
the apparent loss of prestige would imply, in 
the mere fact that a final blow has not yet been 

j6 The Influence of the South African War 

dealt to the novel and irregular resistance now 
encountered. The task is one historically and 
proverbially difficult. I am not an expert in 
knowledge of our Indian wars; but I have 
greatly misunderstood what has been said and 
written, if the most successful methods there 
applied have not been the joint product of prac- 
tice and of that species of mental effort which 
corresponds to invention in industrial life, — a 
happy thought occurring to an individual whose 
mind is absorbed in overcoming difficulties 
with which he has made a thorough experi- 
mental acquaintance. 1 The history of our 
Indian hostilities is not without its record of 
grave perplexities, of bafflement, or of occasional 
appalling disaster; and in the present case, 
upon a fair balancing of achievement against 

1 To Lord Kitchener, thus pondering, and driven by experiment 
from one expedient to another, there came the solution of the block- 
house system. The problem before him, and the underlying prin- 
ciple of the plan adopted, have been thus described since the peace. 
i( An army largely immobile," partly from natural characteristics and 
partly from the absolute necessity of hovering near railway lines, to 
the protection of which it was tied, " had to cope with one entirely 
mobile. He used his immobile troops to form artificial frontiers n 
(the blockhouse lines) "against which the enemy could be driven. 
It was a heavy task, but he had found the solution, and the Boers 
were quick to recognize the fact. They saw in the blockhouse line 
and the drive the end of their struggle, which depended all through 
upon unlimited power of evasion." — London Times> July 12, 1902. 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 77 

difficulty, I should find ground for increase of 
hope rather than for diminution of prestige. 
The man in the street, I fear, judges differently, 
and his judgment is prestige. 

Upon the whole, therefore, while I can see 
abundant room for criticism of detail, I do not 
in the military record find cause to warrant 
loss of prestige. The main defect of the aver- 
age British officer — that he is not what the 
French call instruit, nor even disposed to be- 
come so — has been his trouble historically and 
always ; and it is emphasized now by an enforce- 
ment of systematic training in continental 
armies, and by the United States in their mili- 
tary academy, with which the British authorities 
are not inclined to comply, either in army or 
navy. The successes of Great Britain in other 
times have been attained under this disadvan- 
tage. To meet difficulties as they arise, instead 
of by foresight, to learn by hard experience 
rather than by reflection or premeditation, are 
national traits ; just as is contempt for consti- 
tutions which are made instead of evolved. 
Personally, if I must choose, I prefer the knowl- 
edge given by experience, the acquirements of 
growth to those of formulated instruction ; 

78 The Influence of the South African War 

but I see no reason why one should exclude 
the other, to the injury of both. The British 
officer might possess more knowledge, more 
reading, more grasp of precedent and principle, 
without injuring his adaptability. The stu- 
dent's lamp has its part as well as the football 
field or the cricket ground in equipping an 

So much for contemplating the reasonable in- 
fluence upon military prestige of what has so far 
occurred and now exists in South African condi- 
tions. Upon the broader question of present 
prestige of the Empire I cannot enlarge, and 
will limit myself to a brief enumeration of exist- 
ing factors as they appear to me, with an esti- 
mate of the consequent real status of the Empire 
among the Powers of the world. 

First among symptoms is one which, to my 
mind, gives immeasurable assurance of national 
power — the sure guarantee of prestige — and 
that is the progress towards unanimity in the 
nation, centring round the idea of Imperialism, 
and finding an immediate impetus in the South 
African problem. Whatever the faults of a 
Government, or the failures of an army, a unan- 
imous and sustained national spirit is the vital 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 79 

force, of which prestige is at best but the out- 
ward sign and faint reflection. The increase 
of unanimity throughout the Empire is wit- 
nessed both by the movement of the Colonies, 
and by the rejection of the disintegrating ten- 
dency in the Liberal party by its younger and 
abler members, to whom the future belongs. 
Imperialism has shown itself an idea capable of 
quickening national self-consciousness, of be- 
stowing strength of purpose, and of receiving 
indefinite expansion. 

Again, the sea-power of the Empire still 
stands pre-eminent. I do not here consider 
the accuracy of the many allegations made, of 
failure on the part of the Government to main- 
tain necessary progress. Even if these be true, 
no irreparable harm has yet been done. The 
Imperial movement of the Colonies, in con- 
tributing to the war, is greatly contributive to 
sea-power. By strengthening the Imperial 
tie, it gives assurance of local support in many 
seas — the bases — which sea-power requires; 
while the military effort, and the experience 
gained by the colonial troops engaged, render 
the defence and security of these local bases 
much more solid than ever before, because 

80 The Influence of the South African War 

dependent upon men experienced in warfare. 
The foundations are surer. 

Again, closely connected with this last con- 
sideration is the inevitable superior efficiency of 
the army at large, Imperial as well as colonial, 
consequent on this protracted experience of war. 
I made this remark twenty months ago to an 
American audience, which I believed to be 
impressed with the idea of lost prestige, and 
forgetful of this prolonged warlike practice, 
obvious as its effect upon efficiency should be. 
The comment rests now on an even wider 
and firmer basis than when first uttered. The 
British army, including colonial contingents, 
is to-day, to the number of over 200,000 men, a 
vastly more useful instrument than it could 
have been two years ago; and this gain will 
last for at least a decade, as a matter of inter- 
national calculation, just as the disbanded but 
tempered forces of the United States remained 
after the Civil War. 

The Confederation of the Empire, whatever 
shape that may ultimately, if ever, attain, has 
doubtless been furthered, not hindered, by the 
war. Community of sentiment and community 
of action have both been fostered. I would 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 8 1 

not speak with exaggeration, nor overlook the 
immense difficulties in maintaining community 
of interest and of aim between political entities 
so widely scattered as the component parts of 
the Empire. The work is one of time, of tact, 
and labor. I say only that the war has furth- 
ered it, and most justly; for from the point 
of view of the British Islands alone — the 
Imperial idea apart — the war, so far from be- 
ing selfish, has been self-sacrificing. It is the 
Empire, not the Mother Country, that is most 
interested in this comparatively ex-centric and 
remote dependency. 

In development of power, both local and 
general, therefore, I believe the war to have 
strengthened materially the British Empire, 
and I believe it has likewise given renewed and 
increased force to the spirit of union, of con- 
centration upon great ideals, without which 
material strength runs to waste. As an im- 
mediate result, I look for the establishment 
of a group of South African communities, in 
which the English tradition of law and liberty 
will henceforth prevail, partly by force of con- 
quest, partly because of its inherent fitness to 

survive. Of this eminent inherent fitness the 


82 The Influence of the South African War 

United States of America gives the most signal 
illustration, because, though so heterogeneous 
in the composition of its population, the Eng- 
lish tongue and the English tradition overbear 
all competitors, reconcile in themselves all 
rivalries, and sustain themselves in directive 
control; modified doubtless, but not weakened, 
by the variety of foreign influences to which 
they are subjected. 

With these obvious gains — development of 
Imperial purpose, strengthening of Imperial 
ties, broadening and confirming the bases of 
sea-power, increase of military efficiency, dem- 
onstrated capacity to send and to sustain 
200,000 men on active service, for two years, 
6000 miles from home — I do not believe the 
international prestige of Great Britain has 
sunk in foreign Cabinets, however it may be 
reckoned in the streets and cafes of foreign 
cities. Against this, in order to support a 
charge of loss of prestige, is set the weary pro- 
longation of the war. Men need not deceive 
themselves ; there is here no even balance. 
The gain outweighs the loss. I unfeignedly 
wish that the w r ar, with its sorrows and sus- 
pense, might end ; but it remains true, sad 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 83 

though the argument is, that the more com- 
pletely the Boer exhausts himself now, the 
more convinced and the more final will his 
submission necessarily be. 

I have not thought it incumbent upon me, 
or even becoming, to enter into discussion of 
the vexed question concerning the manage- 
ment of the later stage of the war by the 
Home Government. The conduct of a par- 
ticular government, like that of a particular 
general, gives no assured indication of national 
worth, unless its efficiency or inefficiency pro- 
ceeds, clearly and inevitably, from causes in- 
trinsically national ; as from a close division 
in national sentiment, or failure in material 
resources. There is no sign of such division 
or such failure at the present time; rather the 
contrary. Whatever the fault or merit of the 
present Government, challenged as I know it 
to be by many of its own followers as well as 
by the Opposition, the point considered in this 
paper is not the deserts of a group of individ- 
uals, but the real power of the nation, on which 
its prestige should depend. It will be retorted 
that this begs the question, that the nation 
cannot put forth its power without the neces- 

84 The Influence of the South African War 

sary and adequate instrument which a Govern- 
ment is intended to supply, and which, it is 
urged, this Government does not. The argu- 
ment, I think, is exaggerated. Governments 
may do more or less ; they may impede or 
facilitate; but they cannot prevent the exertion 
of the national will. That they have not done 
so in this instance is assured — -to me — by 
the very recent assertion, resting on the ven- 
erated authority of Lord Roberts, that " Lord 
Kitchener, in whom we all have implicit con- 
fidence, has never made one single demand for 
men, for horses, or for stores, that has not been 
immediately complied with." This result is 
quite compatible with much error, delay, and 
extravagance; but nevertheless it is the main 
point secured. The nation does well to be 
watchful and exacting, for in the wretched 
plight to which the regular party Opposition 
is reduced, voluntary organization or individual 
criticism must supply the corrective of super- 
vision, without which officials never, and private 
individuals rarely, do their best; but when Lord 
Roberts can say what he has it is clear that 
much has been done, even though the most 
may not have been. Loss of prestige, worth 

Upon the Prestige of the British Empire 85 

considering, will come when the nation loses 

This article, as first penned in November, 
1 90 1, ended here. As it opened with comment 
upon the fundamental primary definition of the 
word " prestige," let us now, nearly a year later, 
recur to the secondary accepted meaning, as 
given by authorities. " Prestige is the moral 
influence which past successes, as the pledge 
and promise of future ones, breed." The 
British war in South Africa, esteemed by many 
to be of doubtful outcome when I first wrote, 
has since been carried to a victorious issue. It 
is now a past success ; can it be considered to 
carry pledge and promise for the future ? A 
correct answer must depend upon due con- 
sideration of conditions. A year ago belief in 
the final result, now realized, rested upon an 
intellectual appreciation of the decisive facts 
then attainable, reinforced by a reference to the 
historical teaching of British warfare in the 
past. Putting aside the particular merit of 
individuals, as foreign to the general estimate, 
success in the present instance, as on former 
occasions, has been due to national tenacity, 

86 The Influence of the South African War 

and ultimate aptitude to meet conditions as 
they arise, combined with the essential justice 
of the national contention. It has been gained 
despite a certain degree of unreadiness and 
inadequacy at the outset, which cannot be pro- 
nounced wholly excusable. Great Britain has 
won, as she has before, by national endurance, 
supported by superior resources, and strength- 
ened by the felt goodness of her cause around 
which determination could harden. In these 
substantial strong qualities of national charac- 
ter, the foundations of her prestige are seen to 
be the same that they were a year ago, and 
have commonly been in the past. Another 
demonstration has been added ; but her people 
may hope that she will not further tempt for- 
tune by failing to correct practical deficiencies 
which have been revealed. 



March, 1902. 

WITHIN the last twenty years Great 
Britain has passed through two crises 
which should appeal strongly to the attention 
and intelligence — if not also to the practical 
sympathy — of Americans. Not only have 
they an analogy to problems we ourselves have 
met and solved in the course of our national 
existence, but the result to which they 
tend, by confirming the power of the British 
Empire, will probably strengthen likewise the 
external policy of the United States during the 
next generation. Interest, due in any case, 
is emphasized by the fact that the issue at 
stake has been the same in both these momen- 
tous instances. Under all superficial divergen- 
ces and misleading appearances, the real ques- 
tion about Ireland and about South Africa has 
been, " Shall Great Britain exist as an Empire, 

90 Motives to Imperial Federation 

or shall it fall to pieces by a series of willing 
or tolerated secessions ? " As Joseph said to 
Pharaoh concerning the two visions of the lean 
kine and the blasted ears, — the dream is one. 
The impetus given to Imperial Federation by 
the South African war, the striking root 
downward and bearing fruit upward of the 
imperial idea, has doubtless been immense ; 
but the moment really decisive of the Em- 
pire's future — as an Empire — is to be 
sought in the period when Mr. Parnell's effort 
at disruption obtained the support of Mr. 
Gladstone. That was the critical instant, 
which determined both that the conception 
should come to the birth, and that, being born, 
it should not be strangled in its cradle. 

An impressive article published in 1885, on 
the eve of the general election which resulted 
in that disastrous stroke of policy, Mr. Glad- 
stone's Irish Bill, both foretold its coming and, 
in a spirit of prophecy, perhaps not fully con- 
scious of the scope of its utterance, predicted 
likewise the inevitable revulsion of the nation 
from a foreign policy marked by constant 
feebleness and repeated disgrace, as well as 
from an economical propaganda which, what- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 9 1 

ever its possible fitness to a future yet distant, 
had too far outrun the general sentiment of the 
people to be practicable. The foreign policy 
— summed up in the words of Candahar, 
Majuba, Suakim, Khartoum, and Gordon — 
was identified by the writer with the name of 
Mr. Gladstone ; the economical programme 
with that of Mr. Chamberlain. Neither the 
one nor the other was longer acceptable. The 
issue indicated, and since fulfilled, was the 
abatement of interest in internal changes and 
the concentration of national sentiment upon 
external policy. 

It needed only the announcement of Mr. 
Gladstone's Irish Bill of 1886 to precipitate the 
conclusion, for which men's minds were already 
prepared. The Irish measure, in form a matter 
of arrangement internal to the United King- 
dom, was in essence one of which the gravest 
bearing was upon external policy ; for in prin- 
ciple it involved the dissolution of the Empire. 
It is to the undying honor and distinction of 
Mr. Chamberlain that he quickly recognized 
the issue, and decided without hesitation that 
the existence of the nation and of the Empire, 
in undiminished power, involved the interests 

92 Motives to Imperial Federation 

of every class of the community, and therefore 
utterly exceeded in immediate importance all 
projects of social readjustment. Subordinating 
to the general welfare the objects with which 
he had been most closely associated, he sep- 
arated himself from the party of his lifelong 
allegiance, wherein lay the best hope of accom- 
plishing his social programme, and thenceforth 
has given pre-eminence to the imperial interests 
which he saw threatened. This postponement 
of political objects involved a sacrifice of per- 
sonal ambition, to be appreciated only by recall- 
ing the conditions of that time. The same 
astute observer, writing but a year later, when 
the momentous step had been taken, derided its 
finality. " Mr. Chamberlain is the obvious suc- 
cessor of Mr. Gladstone in leadership of the 
democracy. It is idle to suppose he would 
sacrifice this prospect for the sake of taking 
a subordinate position in a Conservative or 
even a Coalition Ministry. Sooner or later the 
logic of facts must separate him from his present 
associates. . . .His assistance to Unionists 
is welcome as long as it lasts. Of its essence, 
however, it is transitory. Mr. Chamberlain 
will return to the Liberal fold, probably at no 

Motives to Imperial Federation 93 

remote date." The logic of one great thought, 
Imperial Unity, the exclusive leading of the 
single eye, has falsified these predictions ; but 
it is only fair to accept their measurement 
of what Mr. Chamberlain surrendered by his 

It is to be apprehended that the recent 
striking outburst of blended national and impe- 
rial sentiments in Great Britain and her colonies, 
the display of unified enthusiasm sweeping over 
the various quarters of the Empire, has been an 
unpleasant surprise to the world at large. In 
it has been recognized the strong bond of 
national feeling, oneness of origin and blood, 
joined to and inspiring the imperial conviction 
which involves a fundamental unity of policy. 
If, in the union of the two, deed answered to 
word, if success followed upon attempt, a power 
nothing short of new had arisen in the world. 
The fluttering conception of twenty years ago 
had become a reality ; incipient, perhaps, but 
with what a possible future ! To this, doubt- 
less, has been due in great part the correspond- 
ing unanimity of denunciation on the Continent. 
An unexpected manifestation of power and reso- 
lution has elicited an echoing outcry from disap- 

94 Motives to Imperial Federation 

pointed anticipation. It is not quite thirty 
years (1874) since a foreign naval captain 
remarked to me that in his belief England was 
a " colosse a pieds d'argile." This impression 
was general. The phrase voiced a wish as 
well as a thought; and it may be said that 
then there was much to justify the implied 
prophecy, whether it took the shape of a hope or 
a fear, prompted by dislike or by affection. The 
tendency of the great money-getting era of 
trade and material prosperity, of exclusive 
devotion to purely commercial ideas, of the 
prevalence of strictly national, internal, domes- 
tic interests over colonial sympathies and impe- 
rial ambitions, was then culminating to its 
decline ; and one looked in vain for the appear- 
ance of higher aspirations and broader views, 
bearing promise of a fresh spring to national 
life. A down grade seemed at hand. 

After the long supremacy of the dollars- 
and-cents standards of policy, which arose and 
flourished in the middle of the nineteenth 
century, to languish and droop with its clos- 
ing decades, experience is refreshed, and hope 
stimulated, by the sight of two great peoples, 
who speak the same tongue and inherit the 

Motives to Imperial Federation 95 

same tradition, casting aside considerations of 
mere monetary cost and abandoning them- 
selves to the domination of a lofty ideal. 
This the United States did in 1861 under the 
tremendous impetus exerted by the simple 
words " The Union," which, cherished almost 
to idolatry by the boyhood of the North dur- 
ing preceding generations, — as the writer well 
remembers, — lifted the nation to its feet as one 
man when disruption threatened. The Union 
was to us a personification, devotion to which 
probably afforded the nearest approach to per- 
sonal loyalty that the spirit of our institutions 
warrants. Again, although to a less degree, 
in the Philippines matter, where no such com- 
manding motive or long tradition exists to 
inspire, there is nevertheless to be found, 
surely disengaging itself from the confused 
tumult of impressions inevitable upon deci- 
sions taken in the heat of pressing action, the 
deep conviction, widespread among the people, 
that here is no mere question of gain or loss, 
of land or money, but one of moral responsi- 
bility. Upon us has devolved, by an inevitable 
sequence of causes, responsibility to our con- 
science for an assemblage of peoples in moral 

96 Motives to Imperial Federation 

and political childhood ; and responsibility 
further to the world at large, and to history, 

— the supreme earthly judge of men's actions, 

— for our course in the emergency thrust upon 
us. As such, the United States has accepted 
the burden. Its duties are not to be dis- 
charged by throwing them overboard, or by 
wrapping our political talent in a napkin for 
our own national security and ease. 

The noble record of Great Britain in Egypt 
during the past twenty years, justly considered, 
gives inspiration and direction to our purposes 
for the Philippines. External conditions are 
doubtless most diverse; but, if the informing 
spirit be the same, it will adapt itself to the 
circumstances, and the good-will find the way 
to manifest itself in the damp lowlands and 
mountains of the islands as surely as in the 
dry Nile Valley. Here the example has been 
set us for encouragement; and to cavilers at 
the integrity of our purpose, or at the advantage 
of our efforts to a subject people, we have but 
to cite Egypt, which, like the Philippines, and 
but a few years before them, is emerging from 
a long period of oppression, to advance through 
national childhood to such measure of self- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 97 

administration as its people may prove fit 

As regards the question of federal union, the 
priority of experience is reversed. However 
great the difference of conditions here pre- 
sented to the British Empire and to America, — 
and it is at least greater than the diversity be- 
tween the Philippines and Egypt, — the United 
States has been first to find a solution. The 
American colonies began their attempt under 
the difficulty of mutual alienation, due to long 
standing tradition, and with interests differing 
probably more radically than those which now 
exist between the several English-speaking 
parts of the British Empire. Despite this 
serious initial obstacle, the thirteen original 
States, aided later by those afterwards consti- 
tuted, worked out the problem of union through 
a prolonged period of perplexity, anxiety, re- 
pulsion, and dissension. The final achievement 
has been so complete that the men of to-day 
have almost lost the very memory of the ante- 
cedent travail, and of the narrow margin by 
which ruin was more than once escaped. Here, 
as in Egypt, but with more vital issues, there is 
the cheering example of success; wrung in this 



98 Motives to Imperial Federation 

instance out of the jaws of imminent failure. 
Hence, while the difference of circumstances 
surrounding the problem of Imperial Federa- 
tion precludes in great measure any advantage 
of precedents to be found in the historic path 
by which the American communities made 
their way to union, it may safely be argued 
that, if the informing spirit of desire be present, 
the adequate motives to a closer imperial bond 
recognized, the questions of form and method 
will be solved in the one case as they have 
been in the other. In both, the purpose and 
end is the same : to assure unified, or imperial, 
external action, by the means of an adequate 
organ, common to all, while preserving the in- 
dependence of the several parts in their in- 
ternal affairs. Whatever the particular solution 
appropriate to either, both present the diffi- 
culty of reconciling in practical working two 
principles/which in terms appear contradictory, 
whereas in fact they may prove complementary. 
Questions of such difficult character do not 
recommend themselves to practical mankind 
as political conundrums, in answering which 
the satisfaction of the intellect is its own suffi- 
cient reward. They are not accepted by men 

Motives to Imperial Federation 99 

as recreations, but are forced upon them by 
urgency. They must supply their own ade- 
quate motive, and propose their own reasonable 
end, or they receive no attention. Only by 
motives most grave, by danger most pressing, 
by inconveniences serious in the present and 
threatening to be intolerable in the future, 
were the American States first driven into a 
combination, imperfect and often grudging. 
From this, still under the pressure of renewed 
urgency, they advanced into a union more per- 
fect in form but still sadly lacking in unity, 
either of understanding or sentiment, until, 
finally, to avert dismemberment, physical force 
itself had to be exerted by those who had come 
not only to believe in the Union, but by long 
unquestioning devotion to love it supremely. 
Mutual jealousy, quite as much as mutual 
love, characterized the first efforts of the States 
at association. As feeling grew kinder and 
warmer, divergence of interest and of political 
ideals still tended to preserve and to promote 
the element of repulsion, as was shown in the 
debates on the acceptance of the present Con- 
stitution, and in many incidents of checkered 
national life through two generations. Ulti- 


i oo Motives to Imperial Federation 

mately, translated into broader action, from 
individual States to groups of States, the last 
manifestation of the disruptive tendency took on 
a sectional form, upon a scale so large that the 
ensuing war was in character rather international 
than " civil/' as it has been commonly styled. 

With one exception, there does not exist 
among the different bodies which should com- 
pose a federal Empire of Great Britain the 
traditional alienation which hampered the 
movement of the American States in their first 
efforts towards union. The exception, of 
course, is Ireland. Practically regarded, it is 
impossible for a military man, or a statesman 
with appreciation of military conditions, to 
look at the map and not perceive that the am- 
bition of Irish separatists, if realized, would be 
even more threatening to the national life of 
Great Britain than the secession of the South 
was to that of the American Union. It would 
be deadlier, also, to imperial aspirations ; for 
Ireland, by geographical position, lies across 
and controls the communications of Great 
Britain with all the outside world, save only 
that considerable, but far from preponderant, 
portion which borders the North Sea and the 

Motives to Imperial Federation 101 

Baltic. Independent and hostile, it would 
manacle Great Britain, which at present is, and 
for years to come must remain, by long odds 
the most powerful member of the federation, if 
that take form. The Irish question, therefore, 
is vitally important, not to Great Britain only, 
but to the colonies. The considerations that 
swayed the mind of the Union in the Civil 
War apply with peculiar force to the connec- 
tion between Great Britain and Ireland. And 
let it be distinctly noted that the geographical 
relation of Ireland to Great Britain imposes as 
indispensable a political relation which would 
be fatal to any scheme of federation between 
the mother country and the remote great col- 
onies. The legislative supremacy of the British 
parliament, against the assertion of which the 
American colonists revolted, and which to-day 
would be found intolerable in exercise in Can- 
ada and Australia, cannot be yielded in the 
case of an island where independent action 
might very well be attended with fatal conse- 
quences to its partner. The instrument for 
such action, in the shape of an independent 
parliament, could not safely be trusted even to 
avowed friends. 

102 Motives to Imperial Federation 

The constant lightening of control by the 
mother country, and the concession of substan- 
tial self-government, have removed from the 
problem before Great Britain and her colonies 
the initial disadvantage under which the Amer- 
ican States drew together ; but, on the other 
hand, the idea of Imperial Federation long 
awaited the impulse which they received, first 
from a common extreme danger, and afterwards 
from their close contact with one another, 
which emphasized the general injury that 
mutual independence and inconsiderate action 
were daily causing. It is not fanciful to say 
that, as the common dangers to the American 
colonies from the power of Great Britain, which 
was to them irresistible unless they combined, 
supplied the first motive to effectual association ; 
so the needed impulse, urgent if not imperative, 
was found by the members of the British Em- 
pire in the danger and threatened oppression 
of one of their number by alien blood. The 
feeling of nationality, the sentiment of one 
blood and one political tradition, wrought pow- 
erfully in support of imperial action in South 
Africa ; and it is a commonplace that action 
intensifies sentiment. 

Motives to Imperial Federation 103 

When the American colonists united in form, 
however defective, they had made a large prac- 
tical step towards the sentiment of union, which 
as a constraining force is even stronger than 
interest. In that which has been well named 
" the critical period " of American history, be- 
tween the War of Independence and the adop- 
tion of the Constitution, the love of the Union 
showed itself forcibly in the utterances even of 
those who dreaded union on the terms proposed. 
When we consider the narrow majorities by 
which these were accepted, it is easy to believe 
that only the realization in act of the first union, 
that of the Confederacy, made possible the 
second, — the federal Union. When the British 
colonies and the mother country, three years 
ago, rose together in defence of a threatened 
brother and child, translating into action an 
idea nascent but as yet weak in its grasp of 
men's affections, they also advanced a first 
stage, the most important stage, in the direc- 
tion of a further unity, under such ultimate 
form as their particular relations may de- 
mand. The analogy of the two cases is per- 
fectly real. The idea of union was not new 
to Americans before their Revolution. On 

104 Motives to Imperial Federation 

the contrary, its advantages were obvious ; 
but all attempts prompted by manifest in- 
terest fell abortive, until pressure was sup- 
plied by the Stamp Act and its train of 
incidents. The legislation of the Transvaal, 
supplemented by the Afrikander Bond, has 
fulfilled the same office in the history of Impe- 
rial Federation ; unless, indeed, a prior claim 
to that honor be established for Mr. Parnell. 
Not the conception nor yet tentative theories 
were wanting ; but languid inclination had to 
be quickened into stirring life by contact with 
pressing occasion. 

Two successive dangers, Ireland and South 
Africa, have thus contributed to the onward 
movement of imperialism in Great Britain. 
They have indicated a need and furnished a 
motive. The first gave birth to aspiration, con- 
scious and definite, towards a higher form of 
imperial development; corresponding in anal- 
ogy, though by no means necessarily in outward 
resemblance, to the " more perfect union " of 
the once loosely combined American States. 
The second emphasized the wisdom of such a 
policy by a concrete example of its advantages. 
Aspiration, having found its opportunity, was 

Motives to Imperial Federation 105 

translated into action ; and action in turn rein- 
forces and stimulates aspiration by demonstra- 
tion, and by its powerful effect upon sentiment, 
the great motive force of humanity. Happily, 
too, for the general impulse, the illustration of 
advantage has been afforded in one of the great 
colonies, where national self-existence, entire 
independence of outside control, and exemption 
from the exposure attendant upon an imperial 
war, might have a preponderant hold upon 
men's minds. The specific utility of the impe- 
rial connection to the large secondary members 
was shown ; for the menace to one of them 
came from a State which, though in form in- 
ternal to the Empire, was in fact and power 
external as w r ell as alien. 

Similar conditions may well arise elsewhere, 
with extreme increase of danger to one of the 
great colonies, if severed by independence from 
the support of the British navy. Canada, 
doubtless, whatever she might lose otherwise, 
would find territorial immunity in the policy of 
the United States, avowed in the Monroe 
Doctrine, — as applicable to her as to South 
America ; but to South Africa, Australia, and 
New Zealand, local difficulties, — such as those 

io6 Motives to Imperial Federation 

of the Transvaal, and of New Guinea twenty 
years ago, — would, in the absence of the impe- 
rial bond, assume a very different aspect if 
incurred with a powerful European naval State. 
These instances also bring into conspicuous 
evidence the general truth that sea power, the 
material strength and bond of an Empire the 
component parts of which are separated by 
thousands of miles of ocean, is equally essen- 
tial to the individual security of the several 
members. Imperial Federation, in action, will 
manifest itself pre-eminently along ocean and 
naval lines. 

At present the large colonies, while retain- 
ing their hold upon the support of the Empire, 
to the power of which they in turn can con- 
tribute much, substantially control all that 
relates to their internal affairs. Taxation, 
regulation of commerce, the purse and the 
sword, are in their own hands. Were they to 
become immediately independent, no jar would 
be felt in the continuance of the local adminis- 
tration. The appointment of the governors 
by the Crown, may, if choice be judicious, 
materially help to maintain the reality, as it 
does the form, of political attachment to the 

Motives to Imperial Federation 107 

mother country; but the actual government 
is parliamentary, and assumption of independ- 
ence would not necessarily involve any serious 
modification of institutions. Further, in two 
out of the three large aggregations of colonial 
communities, in Canada and in Australia, there 
exists now a federal compact, by which bodies 
but a few years ago politically separate, linked 
only by common allegiance to Great Britain, 
are united into one State. British South 
Africa still remains an assemblage of colonies, 
with particular local and domestic difficulties 
of their own, on which it is inopportune here 
to enlarge. 

These are the present political conditions of 
the principal factors of which an Imperial 
Federation, if realized, will be composed. It 
seems inevitable, however, that, when the re- 
sistance of the Boers shall have ended, some 
form of union will be requisite to insure the 
dominance of British political ideas and tradi- 
tions throughout the mass of South African 
colonists; for in such community of sentiment 
a federal union of the Empire must find the 
homogeneousness without which it will be but 
a vain word. The term nation, it is said, 

io8 Motives to Imperial Federation 

applies primarily to community of blood ; but 
I question whether a closer bond is not to be 
found in inherited acceptance, inborn and in- 
bred, of the same political ideas, fundamental 
laws, and habits of thought, which regulate the 
relations and intercourse between man and 
man, and constitute congeniality. If to these 
a common tongue be added, environment will 
have done more to promote unity than it is in 
the power of mere blood to effect. 

It may fairly be questioned whether the 
phrase Imperial Federation is not something 
of a misnomer, altogether too broad in its im- 
plication. It has obtained currency ; and in 
a general way is understood with as much pre- 
cision as is perhaps attainable in the present 
inchoate stage of the idea involved. Are all 
parts of the present Empire to be admitted as 
component States in the Federation? Take 
India as the crucial instance, on account of 
its extent and population, extremely important 
elements in state existence ; is its constitution, 
racial, social, and political, such that it could 
be admitted at the present time as one of 
several self-governing communities, under the 
federation of which the affairs of the Federal 

Motives to Imperial Federation 109 

State, the interests common to all, and the 
external policy of the whole, could be adminis- 
tered ? Can India be properly described as a 
State? Without statehood a community can 
be a member of an Empire, as a dependency, 
but it can scarcely be a member of a federation. 
Logomachies, when nothing more, are un- 
profitable ; but in attempting the solution of 
such a problem, difficult both on the intellectual 
and the practical sides, accuracy of expression 
demands closeness of thought, and is rewarded 
by increased clearness of vision as to the exact 
nature of the object desired. I do not propose 
myself to pursue the interrogatory I have sug- 
gested; but apparently the aim of those who 
desire federation, the importance of which is 
to me undeniable, should not be so much a 
federated Empire — is not that a contradiction 
in terms? — as a federal State, or kingdom, 
composed of some half-dozen principal mem- 
bers, substantially homogeneous in their prin- 
ciples of government. To this system would 
remain attached a huge dominion of subordi- 
nate communities, differing much between 
themselves in size and importance, as well as 
in blood, institutions, and social development, 

1 1 o Motives to Imperial Federation 

and linked together only by the common rule 
of the Federal State, as they now are by that 
of the United Kingdom. The Federal King- 
dom and the dependencies, taken together, and 
in their respective relations of governing and 
governed, would compose the Empire. 

It is such rule and control over peoples not 
yet fully fitted to go alone that in strictness 
of phrase constitute Empire. Empire is not 
a particular form of government. It is a fact, 
independent of particular methods. The Re- 
public of the United States, already a federal 
State, has found itself by the impulse and 
sequence of events in just this position of 
Empire ; charged with the responsibility of 
subordinate communities which it would be 
impossible now to admit to statehood in the 
federation. Against this condition of empire 
— actual and inevitable — -from which there 
has been, and is, no escape at once honorable 
and safe, a small minority of Americans have 
revolted violently. They regard it as destruc- 
tive of cherished formulas, political maxims, 
which are identified with and accurately ex- 
press the principles of our own national exist- 
ence and growth, and therefore are assumed, 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 1 1 

inconsequently, to apply equally to races en- 
tirely different in antecedents and in present 
development. Words and phrases, however, 
war hopelessly against facts with which they 
are inconsistent; nor is there any more curious 
instance than this of veritable and futile log- 
omachy. To more practical Americans, thus 
committed despite themselves to imperialism 
after federation, it is impressive to watch a 
converse process ; to see a consolidated king- 
dom, a unified State, possessed of an already 
existing Empire, feeling its way to perpetuation 
and intension of power by means of federation 
with those members of its present empire which 
are homogeneous to itself. 

Imperialism, the extension of national au- 
thority over alien communities, is a dominant 
note in the world-politics of to-day. Compara- 
tively a newcomer, it already contends for pre- 
eminence with commercial ambition, to which 
also it ministers. This out-reaching of an 
imperialistic arm by all the greater nations, 
whether voluntary or compelled by circum- 
stances, constitutes and summarizes the motive 
to a closer union than that which now exists 
between the members of the British Empire. 

ii2 Motives to Imperial Federation 

In the past, Ireland and the Transvaal have 
given impulsion ; the present and the future 
have further reason, no less imperious. The 
conditions have ceased under which inde- 
pendence might conceivably be more advan- 
tageous to the larger colonies. If ever true, it 
is no longer so that the colonial tie brings 
them no compensative advantage for exposure 
in war. They are now surrounded by ambitions 
and confronted by navies which till recently 
did not exist. Once war meant to them only 
incidental injury; now it may well mean per- 
manent mutilation to a colony thrown by in- 
dependence upon its own resources. Not 
now, if ever, much less now than ever before, 
can colonial interests be viewed as separate 
from the politics of Europe and America. In 
peace as in war, in peace to avert war, or to 
stay trespass which armed power alone can 
restrain, each colony now needs the strong arm 
of the mother country's fleet to sustain its local 
strength. According to the circumstances, 
such support may be given either immediately 
in colonial waters, or by diversion, in Europe 
or elsewhere, keeping the enemy's battleships 
remote. In one way or the other it is indis- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 113 

pensable. With it the colony will be — not 
invulnerable, perhaps, but — invincible ; with- 
out it, immunity can be insured only by the 
maintenance of a local navy approaching equal- 
ity with those of Europe. 

The greater European powers are now colo- 
nially present in several quarters of the globe, 
and there renew through their colonies the 
contact and collision of interests which have 
marked European history. The histories of 
Australasia and South Africa, possibly of Can- 
ada also, are yet to make. Colonial jealousies 
in turn are transmitted back to the mother 
countries, and there give rise to diplomatic 
friction perhaps more dangerous, certainly 
more frequent, than do questions purely Euro- 
Dean. In the latter, rulers meet facts of terri- 
torial tenure so founded in popular acceptance 
and mutual jealousies as to give little expec- 
tation of facile modification by resort to war. 
In newer countries, as the history of North 
America witnesses, the undetermined condi- 
tions which exist, and the resultant unrest in 
men's minds, predispose colonists to jealousies 
which readily find or give provocation ; and 
strife is promoted by the comparative ease with 

i'i4 Motives to Imperial Federation 

which great territories may change masters 
through the fortune of war, as Canada and 
India, for instance, passed from France to 
Great Britain in the eighteenth century. In 
our own day, the political future of the vast 
tract known as British South Africa is being 
decided by a war that has found its origin in 
colonial friction, but to the successful issue of 
which imperial intervention and sea power 
were essential. The consequences to Great- 
Britain and her colonies of failure in this case, 
and the possibilities inherent in the proximity 
of German East and Southwest Africa, illus- 
trate further the contingencies with which the 
present and the future of the British Empire 
will have to deal. 

This reliance of the colonies upon the 
mother nation finds its correlative in the fact 
that European States in turn rest upon their 
colonies for maintenance in necessary activities. 
They can no longer extend freely within their 
own continent, nor there find adequate markets 
for their ever increasing production ; yet, in 
order that they may securely expand elsewhere, 
they must have local support in the several 
quarters whither their energies reach. This 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 1 5 

interaction of mother countries and colonies, 
their reciprocal dependence and importance, 
are decisive facts, to which development and 
organization should be given. For local se- 
curity, or for the assertion of external rights or 
interests, the colonies cannot as yet dispense 
with the material force of the home govern- 
ment. Without it they are unequal to a con- 
flict, necessarily in the main naval, with any 
one of three or four foreign nations whose 
colonial possessions are near them. A Euro- 
pean fleet, on the other hand, must rely upon 
local bases of action far more than in the days 
when coal renewal was not a question. For 
this, isolated fortified stations, like Bermuda 
and Gibraltar, may be most useful from unique 
geographical situation ; but in intrinsic value 
they do not compare with positions which have 
behind them a loyal continent, with extensive 
social and commercial organization, such as 
Canada, Australia, and South Africa afford. 

This reciprocal service and utility constitute 
the chief general and common interest in which 
the motive to Imperial Federation at present 
lies. It is not alone, but it is paramount, and 
will, I think, be found to embrace all the many 

1 1 6 Motives to Imperial Federation 

minor interests which now, and in peace, tend 
to union; for it defends them, and in defending 
perpetuates. It is essentially an interest of 
general defence imposed by novel and growing 
world-conditions. It must be recognized as 
covering, not only the local welfare of each and 
all the parts, but also the communications be- 
tween them, chiefly by sea, which may, and in 
large measure do, lie remote from any one of 
the federation. The several members, and the 
highways between them, together make one 
whole, to the maintenance of which each even 
now contributes. The object of federation is 
to promote the security of this imperial system 
and its development on firmer lines. To the 
general acceptance of this fact of a supreme 
common interest must be added on all hands a 
hearty disposition to subordinate local interests 
to the general welfare, when they clash. Just 
here, of course, arises the difficulty of realizing 
any federation, especially in its early stages ; 
later, like everything possessed of inherent 
usefulness, federation gains strength by its hold 
upon mens affections. The difficulty is very 
real, for not only does each member naturally 
exaggerate its own claims, but it also tends to 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 1 


disregard the needs of others, of which it has 
not immediate experience. Out of touch, out 
of mind, is the evil genius of all federative 
efforts, to be expelled only by the superior 
influence of a dominating affection for the tie 
of union, through experience of its benefits. 

In the order of logical sequence, federation 
finds its origin and motive force in a common 
interest, which is the first impulse in the direc- 
tion of the desired object. The next step is to 
recognize clearly what is this object, this goal 
of attainment, by reaching which the admitted 
interest shall be subserved. The object, I sup- 
pose, is to provide the several members with 
an organism, an instrument common to all, 
which shall be specifically efficient in the main- 
tenance of the common interests, and inopera- 
tive towards strictly individual concerns. This 
object is loosely styled Imperial Federation, 
but its particular form and the method of 
attainment are yet indeterminate. The form 
of an instrument, and the method of its fabri- 
cation, though dictated by the use for which it 
is designed, are in process distinct from it. 
The States of the American Union, for example, 
having recognized certain common interests, 

1 1 8 Motives to Imperial Federation 

formed the common object of making a special 
provision for the care of those specific interests 
and of none others. The particular method, 
— adapted subsequently to the recognition of 
interest and object, — was a central govern- 
ment fully equipped with executive, legislative, 
and judicial functions. This form suited them, 
but most probably may not suit the conditions 
of the British Empire, the members of which 
at present seem in the position of having rec- 
ognized, somewhat imperfectly, a community 
of interest. Thence has arisen a desire, vague 
and somewhat feeble, for an object, an instru- 
ment, they see not yet just what, to which 
the common interest may be solely intrusted. 
When minds are definitely settled on these two 
points, that they have the interest and need 
the instrument, thinking men will sooner or 
later evolve methods. In a recent excursion 
into that realm of unfulfilled prophecy, the 
magazines of twenty years ago, I found affirmed 
the hopelessness of Australian federation. Fol- 
lowing by a few numbers, perhaps elicited by 
this, Sir Henry Parkes stated that all the more 
thoughtful men in Australia had thought out 
in one form or another the question of federa- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 1 9 

tion. The result in Australia is now before us. 
Imperial Federation is doubtless a problem 
very different in kind, but not necessarily more 
hopeless. The need being recognized, individ- 
uals will frame methods, from the discussion 
of which feasible measures will result. Interest 
is the foundation of the whole; the object is 
the building to be raised thereon, the plan of 
which depends upon the needs of those who 
shall use it. The interest, again, is self- 
existent; whether men like it or not, there it 
is ; the object — union in some form — is a 
matter of voluntary acceptance and purposeful 
effort on the part of those interested. The 
method by which the object is to be attained is 
the last in the mental processes. 

The contrivance of methods requires close 
detailed knowledge of the political conditions 
of the several parts, to be attained only by 
prolonged personal contact. A foreigner of 
reasonable modesty will here forbear sug- 
gestion, but may with less presumption con- 
sider some of the obvious circumstances which 
make the object more or less desirable, and 
the methods of its attainment more or less 

1 20 Motives to Imperial Federation 

From the wide dispersion of the principal 
members it is evident that each one, by acqui- 
escing in any federal bond, enters into such 
new relations with its fellows as involve a 
policy external to itself, additional to that 
already existing towards distinctly foreign na- 
tions. Internal affairs remain in the hands of 
each one; foreign relations continue unaltered; 
but superimposed upon both come relations to 
one another on the part of communities geo- 
graphically far apart, and heretofore practically 
severed, save for the loose tie now uniting 
them to the mother country. These relations 
are new and are external; their maintenance 
involves an established politic action — policy 
— distinctly external. Moreover, whatever the 
nature of the federal bond, there is conceded 
to it a certain amount of the virtually entire 
independence previously enjoyed. This will 
be true of Great Britain as well as of the 
colonies. At the present writing, in the ab- 
sence of any federal union, the mother country 
has entire management of the foreign policy 
of the Empire. Concern for the interests of 
the colonies, regard to their possible action in 
case of serious discontent with particular meas- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 2 1 

ures, certainly and necessarily modify the de- 
cisions of the British Cabinet. In this way the 
colonies possess influence; but influence is 
different from power, less assured in exercise, 
and less dignified in recognition. Colonial in- 
terests, as affected by foreign relations, not only 
are not in the hands of the colonists, but they 
have no constitutional voice in determining 
them. In this chiefly their dependency now 
consists ; and Sir Henry Parkes, whose ideal 
of Australian independence was not severance 
from the Empire, but entrance upon a due 
share in the government of a united Empire, 
avowed his conviction that there was no pos- 
sibility of permanent contentment with the 
status of dependency. Deprecating separate 
independence, he defined the only alternative 
to be " sharing on equal terms in all the glory 
of the Empire." The precision of this phrase 
is in one respect noteworthy. It does not 
demand an equal share, but a share " on equal 
terms." This not only admits, but prescribes, 
that the power constitutionally exercised by 
each member shall bear some proportion to 
the strength contributed by it to the whole. 
Otherwise there is no equality. 

122 Motives to Imperial Federation 

Here, apparently, whatever the method 
adopted, there will have to be concession on 
the part of Great Britain. Constitutional re- 
straint upon her present unlimited control of 
the foreign policy of the Empire, by some clear 
voting power on the part of the other mem- 
bers, would seem an inevitable concomitant of 
federation. In return, evidently, the colonies 
by acquiring a voice in the determination of 
foreign policy would incur a proportionate ob- 
ligation to bear the burdens necessary to its 
enforcement. In place of the purely volun- 
tary and unregulated assistance now given, 
there must be accepted a compulsory and de- 
terminate contribution to the general defence. 
The amounts may be fixed at the first by an 
agreement to which all the parties may be 
voluntary participants ; but, unless the federa- 
tion is to be periodically renewable at choice, 
— a most unsatisfactory arrangement, — its 
terms must provide the means for readjust- 
ment of obligations, as the several parties ad- 
vance in strength, at rates probably unequal. 
This is, in effect, entrusting the power of taxa- 
tion to a central organ established by the federal 
Constitution. Unless acceptance of this reap- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 2 3 

portionment of burdens, as provided for by the 
terms of federation, is obligatory upon every 
member, the federation carries in its constitu- 
tion the seeds of decay. It is doomed from 
its birth ; for not only is each member at lib- 
erty to withdraw, but the sense of that liberty 
will continually sap the sentiment for union 
which supplies the spirit of federation, as mu- 
tual interest does its body. 

We meet here clearly an initial difficulty in 
the inequality of population and resources 
among the members of the supposed federa- 
tion. I assume that these would be the United 
Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, the Aus- 
tralian Commonwealth, New Zealand, and the 
group of South African colonies, as yet un- 
combined. These, at least, would be the prin- 
cipal pillars of the federated Empire. Among 
them the United Kingdom is now so greatly 
preponderant, upon any ordinary basis of com- 
parison, as to outweigh all the others put 
together. As in the case of the province of 
Holland among the seven United Netherlands, 
this is in effect a cohesive force now, but it 
evidently introduces a grave difficulty in the 
way of formal federation. Shall the colonies 

1 24 Motives to Imperial Federation 

put themselves under bonds to any central 
body, in which their total voice is outweighed 
by the vote of the home country? Could 
Great Britain accept an arrangement like that 
of the first American confederacy, where each 
State, large and small, had one vote ? Is there 
any feasible combination of these two alterna- 
tives, such as is to-day presented by the national 
legislature of the United States ? 

It is needless to insist upon the practical 
difficulty as to method. Evidently, to over- 
come it, motive must be strong. We must 
fall back upon the common interest which 
points the way to the common object, leaving 
to the ingenuity of those directly concerned, 
or to evolution, — perhaps to both, — the de- 
termination of means. The common interest 
demands increased mutual support throughout 
the Empire, in view of the new conditions of 
the world which have transferred the rivalries 
and the needs of Europe to colonial and other 
foreign regions. The object is to reach some 
working arrangement, by which the several 
contributions of the various parts of the Em- 
pire to the general support and defence may 
be not only determined but enforced. In 

Motives to Imperial Federation 125 

peace things may drift along as they are ; 
but Imperial Federation is needed for prob- 
able emergencies, to combine military prep- 
aration, to avert war by evident readiness, or 
to meet it if it come. It requires, therefore, 
the power of the sword and the purse, guar- 
anteed by something more binding than the 
voluntary action from time to time of the in- 
dividual communities composing it. For sus- 
tained effort Imperial Federation will be 
impotent, unless at the very least the several 
members are willing to accept a fixed burden, 
periodically determined by some competent 
body, external to all, but in the constitution 
of which each, of course, has a voice. The 
experience of the United States goes farther. 
They found it not sufficient to determine in a 
lump amount the proportion due from each 
member; effective union, efficiency for the 
defence of the whole, was not obtained until 
power was given to the central government,— 
not merely to fix the quotas in men and money 
of the several States, — but to lay and to exact 
taxes upon the citizens of all the States, pass- 
ing over the State governments directly to in- 
dividual men. The power refused by them to 

126 Motives to Imperial Federation 

the British Parliament was deliberately, for the 
sake of union, granted to the Congress of the 
United States, in which the States and their 
citizens were severally represented. 

This it will be seen was a question of 
method. Its adoption resulted from long, 
bitter experience. Only so, and hardly so, was 
it conceded. It was the final step in the prog- 
ress to union. Like its predecessors, it was ex- 
torted by dire emergency. This imparted the 
motive ; bringing men to desire, as a political 
object, the organism, the scheme, which out 
of the States framed the Nation and started it 
on the road to success. To the American mo- 
tive geographical nearness contributed much ; 
for the different communities could not help 
seeing the injury all were receiving from their 
mutual indifference or antagonism. The mem- 
bers of the British Empire are in this less 
fortunate. Their remoteness makes less evi- 
dent the interaction of conditions and events. 
That the suffering of one member involves 
injury to each, because of its effect upon the 
whole, becomes less easy to realize. Motive 
thereby becomes less clear and less imperative. 
The impulse to form an object, and to grapple 

Motives to Imperial Federation 127 

with the difficulties of method which impede 
its accomplishment, is weakened. 

Still, the motives are there. Let each mem- 
ber of the Empire consider, for instance, what 
it would mean to the general welfare to have 
an independent and hostile Ireland lying across 
the access of Great Britain to the outer world. 
What would the weakening of the chief mem- 
ber of the Empire be to every other ? What 
would a conquered and hostile South Africa 
have meant to Australia? and beyond Aus- 
tralia, to British influence in the Far East ? 
Can decay of British influence in China be 
seen with equanimity by Canada, with its Pa- 
cific seaboard ? For the same reason it cannot 
be indifferent to Canada whether the British 
navy and commerce, in war, find their way to 
the Farther East through the Mediterranean, 
or be forced to the long Cape route. It is, 
therefore, matter of interest to her, and to 
Australia, if a hostile naval power be firmly 
based on the Persian Gulf. In a way, these 
are internal questions. They are so imme- 
diately, with reference to the Empire at large ; 
but it is easy to see that their determination 
affects powerfully, possibly even vitally, the 

128 Motives to Imperial Federation 

external and foreign relations of the whole and 
of each part. One member has just been 
saved from destruction by the combined effort 
of all, supported by the supreme sea power of 
the mother country. This result, too, is in- 
ternal to the Empire ; but is it not also of vast 
importance to its external security and foreign 
policy? What has made the Transvaal so 
formidable to the adjoining colonies and to the 
Empire ? It is because not only was the pop- 
ulation hostile, but the hostility was organized, 
armed, and equipped, under the shield of com- 
plete self-government. Had Ireland been con- 
ceded the substance of Mr. Gladstone's bill, or 
should she hereafter attain it, would not her 
power of mischief, in case, <%£ foreign war, 
make such demands upon the presence of the 
British navy as seriously to lessen l ifs ability to 
protect commercial routes and colonies ? She 
is to the United Kingdom what the Transvaal 
has been to South Africa. The consideration 
shows both how important the status of Ire- 
land is to the colonies, and how much, by the 
development of their own forces, relieving the 
navy of the United Kingdom, they can con- 
tribute to its security, and thereby to that of 

Motives to Imperial Federation 129 

the commercial routes, which is the common 
interest of all. 

In the question of foreign relations are con- 
spicuously to be seen the advantages of federa- 
tion, which on the internal side is not without 
its drawbacks. Its look is distinctively out- 
ward, recognizing that there conditions have 
undergone decisive change. It faces the world, 
and sees that to do so with success it must 
show a united body. For that purpose it seeks 
to find a means, an organ, in which and by 
which union may be established and main- 
tained. For that purpose it must be willing to 
endure the internal sacrifices, the inevitable 
concessions of individual independence, and 
the burdens of additional expense. For these 
concessions on either hand there will be com- 
pensation. The colonies by entering upon 
a share in determining the foreign policy of 
the whole, gain wider scope of action, elevation 
of idea, increased dignity of existence, and state 
equality with the United Kingdom, actual in 
kind, partial in degree ; an equality resembling, 
doubtless, in principle that of the lower house 
of the United States, where the representation 
for all the States is the same in character, but 


1 30 Motives to Imperial Federation 

in voting power proportioned to the respective 
populations. Individual colonists would claim 
and find imperial careers, as the interests and 
obligations of their native land gained ever 
increasing expansion in the general growth 
and interaction of the Empire. To Sir Henry 
Parkes this seemed, for Australia, a higher 
destiny than independence ; he called it " a 
rightful share in what may be a more glorious 
rule than mankind has ever yet seen." 

It is not to be denied that superficially, 
perhaps by force of tradition, the benefit of 
federation seems chiefly to inure to the mother 
country. This impression probably derives 
from the old idea of state property, underlying 
the colonial relation. Under such a concep- 
tion, the benefit of the owner of this estate, 
the mother country, was naturally the primary 
object in administration. The subordination 
of the colony was not merely in political con- 
nection, but in economical treatment. This 
was admitted by the American colonists, who, 
though they rebelled promptly at commercial 
regulation by tariff, for the raising of imperial 
revenue, as being indirect taxation, acquiesced 
in regulation which alleged the benefit of 

Motives to Imperial Federation 1 3 1 

imperial trade as a whole, though they suffered 
by it. 

Such conditions, however, have passed away; 
and after the temporary domination of the 
contrary belief, that colonies are of little or no 
advantage, it is now recognized that in the 
mutual relation there is reciprocity of benefit, 
even though there be not equality. Colonies 
trade more readily with the mother country 
than with others ; and the capital of the latter, 
other things being equal, seeks investment more 
readily, with greater feeling of security, in com- 
munities kindred in political and legal tradition, 
and of a common allegiance. The question of 
military and naval reciprocity of usefulness has 
been touched on. To this is to be added 
the wider and grander sphere open to the 
colonies, as communities and as individuals, 
when closer relations gain them increasing 
entry, and opportunity for activity, in the inter- 
nal administration and foreign policy of a great 
established State like the United Kingdom. In 
the present threatening and doubtful question 
of the future of China are the elements of a 
world-conflict, in which the British navy is one 
of the largest among several determinative 

132 Motives to Imperial Federation 

factors. Its strength can be supported and 
enlarged by the conditions attendant upon 
federation, and the colonies can thus share in 
both the benefits and the distinction of influence 
upon great political issues ; but what of weight 
or of prestige can they there display, if severally 
independent ? They may receive the benefit of 
the open door, but not the self-contentment of 
self-help. Self-dependence, as distinct from 
nominal independence, is to be found in federa- 
tion, not in separation. As time passes, it can 
hardly fail that the premier and government of 
the Australian federation will be greater in 
position and wider in activities than the cor- 
responding officials of the several states; and 
in like manner a man will be larger in his own 
eye and that of the world as a citizen of 
Australia, than as belonging to a particular 
division of the Commonwealth. The federation 
of the United States exalted irresistibly the 
name American far beyond all local designa- 
tions. So Imperial Federation will dignify and 
enlarge each State and each citizen that enters 
its fold. 

Imperial Federation proposes a partnership 
in which a number of younger and poorer 

Motives to Imperial Federation 133 

members are admitted into a long standing 
wealthy firm. This simile is doubtless not an 
exhaustive statement; but there can be little 
doubt that it is sufficiently just to show where 
the preponderance of benefit will for the time 
fall. The expenditure of the United Kingdom 
on the South African w r ar offers a concrete 
example of this truth, doubly impressive to 
those who, like the writer, see in this instance 
great imperial obligation but little material 
interest, save the greatest of all,- — the preser- 
vation of the Empire. On the other hand, in 
view of the spreading collision of interests 
throughout the world, it is hard to over-value 
the advantage of healthy, attached, self-govern- 
ing colonies to a European country of to-day. 
Blessed is the State that has its quiver full of 
them. Under such conditions, and with the 
motives to union that have been presented, it is 
petty to fasten attention on comparative benefit 
to the exclusion of mutual benefit. Not by 
such grudging spirit are great ideas realized, 
or great ends compassed. Sentiment, imagina- 
tion, aspiration, the satisfaction of the rational 
and moral faculties in some object better than 
bread alone, — all must find a part in a worthy 

1 34 Motives to Imperial Federation 

motive; not to the exclusion of reasonable 
interests, but to their ennoblement by marriage 
to loftier aims, seeking gratification in wider 
activities. Like individuals, nations and em- 
pires have souls as well as bodies. Great and 
beneficent achievement ministers to worthier 
contentment than the filling of the pocket. 

Finally, the broadening and strengthening of 
British power by the progress of Imperial 
Federation is necessarily an object of profound 
interest to Americans. In many quarters it 
will find deep sympathy ; in others, perhaps, 
jealousy may be manifested. For this there is 
no good cause. The American Commonwealth 
and the British Empire have had many jars in 
the past, the memory of which has not wholly 
disappeared; but more and more clearly are 
coming into view the permanent conditions 
that from the first have existed, but until now 
have been overlaid and buried by the wreckage 
of past collisions and disputes. In language, 
law, and political traditions there is fundamen- 
tal identity ; and in blood also, though to some 
extent differentiated in each by foreign admix- 
ture. Coincidently with these, there is a clearly 
defined and wide belt of geographical separa- 

Motives to Imperial Federation 135 

tion between their several spheres, — save the 
one common boundary between Canada and 
the United States. These constitute perma- 
nent factors, tending on the one hand to pro- 
mote understanding, and on the other to avert 
misunderstandings. To reinforce these, there 
is rapidly arising a community of commercial 
interests and of righteous ideals in the Far 
East. In proportion to the hold which abiding 
factors such as these have upon the mind of 
the statesman, will be the light he finds to 
thread his way through the passing perplexities 
of revolving years. The tactical changes of 
front and redistribution of arrangements, which 
the incidental progress of events necessitates 
from time to time, will lack intelligence, cohe- 
rence, and firmness, unless governed by con- 
stant reference to the things which cannot be 
shaken, and which bear to policy the same 
relation that the eternal principles of strategy 
do to the conduct of war. 



May, 1902. 

WE have the highest military authority for 
saying that " War is a business of posi- 
tions " ; a definition which includes necessarily 
not only the selection of positions to be taken, 
with the reasonings, or necessities, which dic- 
tate the choice, but further also the assignment 
of proportionate force to the several points 
occupied. All this is embraced in the easy 
phrase, " The distribution of the fleet." In 
these words, therefore, ought to be involved, by 
necessary implication, an antecedent apprecia- 
tion of the political, commercial, and military 
exigencies of the State in the event of possible 
wars ; for the dispositions of peace should bear 
a close relation to the contingency of war. All 
three elements form a part of the subject-matter 
for consideration, for each is an essential factor 
in national life. Logically separable, in prac- 

140 Considerations Governing 

tice the political, commercial, and military 
needs are so intertwined that their mutual 
interaction constitutes one problem. The fre- 
quent statement that generals in the field have 
no account to take of political considerations, 
conveys, along with a partial truth, a most mis- 
leading inference. Applied even to military 
and naval leaders, it errs by lack of qualifica- 
tion ; but for the statesman, under whom the 
soldier or seaman acts, the political as well as 
the military conditions must influence, must at 
times control, and even reverse, decision. 

The choice of situations, localities, to be held 
as bases of operations, is governed by considera- 
tions of geographical position, military strength, 
and natural resources, which endure from age 
to age; a permanence which justifies the ex- 
pense of adequate fortification. The distribu- 
tion of mobile force, military or naval, is 
subject to greater variation, owing to changes 
of circumstances. Nevertheless, at any one 
historical moment, of peace or war, this ques- 
tion also admits of an appropriate fixed deter- 
mination, general in outline, but not therefore 
necessarily vague. This conclusion should be 
the outcome of weighing the possible dangers 

The Disposition of Navies 141 

of the State, and all the various factors — po- 
litical, commercial, and military — which affect 
national welfare. The disposition thence 
adopted should be the one which will best 
expedite the several readjustments and combi- 
nations that may be necessitated by the out- 
break of various particular wars, which may 
happen with this or that possible enemy. Such 
modification of arrangements can be predicated 
with reasonable certainty for a measurable 
period in advance. The decision thus reached 
may be called the "strategic " solution, because 
dependent upon ascertainable factors, relatively 
permanent, of all which it takes account ; and 
because also it is accepted, consciously and of 
purpose, as preliminary to the probable great 
movements of war, present or prospective. 

In the particular cases that afterwards arise 
from time to time, and of which the outbreak of 
war may itself be one, the unforeseen, the unex- 
pected, begins to come into operation. This is 
one of the inevitable accompaniments of war- 
fare. The meeting of these new conditions, 
by suitable changes *of plan, is temporary in 
character, varying possibly from day to day ; 
but it will generally be found that the more 

142 Considerations Governing 

comprehensive has been the previous strategic 
study, and the more its just forecasts have con- 
trolled the primary disposition, ■ — the distribu- 
tion of force, — the more certainly and readily 
will this lend itself to the shifting incidents of 
hostilities. These movements bear to the fun- 
damental general dispositions the relations 
which tactics have to strategy. In them, on 
occasions, one or two of the leading considera- 
tions which have each had their full weight in 
the original dispositions, may have to be momen- 
tarily subordinated to the more pressing demand 
of a third. In war, generally and naturally, 
military exigencies have preponderant weight; 
but even in war the safety of a great convoy, 
or of a commercial strategic centre, may at a 
given instant be of more consequence than a 
particular military gain. So political condi- 
tions may rightly be allowed at times to over- 
weigh military prudence, or to control military 
activity. This is eminently true, for, after all, 
war is political action. The old phrase, " The 
cannon is the last argument of kings," nlay now 
be paraphrased, "War is the last argument of 
diplomacy." Its purpose is to compass political 
results, where peaceful methods have failed ; 

The Disposition of Navies 143 

and while undoubtedly, as war, the game should 
be played in accordance with the well-estab- 
lished principles of the art, yet, as a means to 
an end, it must consent to momentary modifi- 
cations, in accepting which a well-balanced 
mind admits that the means are less than the 
end, and must be subjected to it. 

The question between military and political 
considerations is therefore one of proportion, 
varying from time to time as attendant circum- 
stances change. As regards the commercial 
factor, never before in the history of the w 7 orld 
has it been so inextricably commingled with 
politics. The interdependence of nations for 
the necessities and luxuries of life have been 
marvellously increased by the growth of pop- 
ulation and the habits of comfort contracted 
by the peoples of Europe and America through 
a century of comparative peace, broken only by 
wars which, though gigantic in scale, have been 
too short in duration to affect seriously com- 
mercial relations. The unmolested course of 
commerce, reacting upon itself, has contributed 
also to its own rapid development, a result fur- 
thered by the prevalence of a purely economi- 
cal conception of national greatness during the 

144 Considerations Governing 

larger part of the century. This, with the vast 
increase in rapidity of communication, has mul- 
tiplied and strengthened the bonds knitting the 
interests of nations to one another, till the 
whole now forms an articulated system, not 
only of prodigious size and activity, but of an 
excessive sensitiveness, unequalled in former 
ages. National nerves are exasperated by the 
delicacy of financial situations, and national 
resistance to hardship is sapped by generations 
that have known war only by the battlefield, 
not in the prolonged endurance of privation and 
straitness extending through years and reach- 
ing every class of the community. The preser- 
vation of commercial and financial interests 
constitutes now a political consideration of the 
first importance, making for peace and deter- 
ring from war; a fact well worthy of observa- 
tion by those who would exempt maritime com- 
mercial intercourse from the operations of naval 
war, under the illusory plea of protecting pri- 
vate property at sea. Ships and cargoes in 
transit upon the sea are private property in 
only one point of view, and that the narrowest 
Internationally considered, they are national 
wealth engaged in reproducing and multiplying 

The Disposition of Navies 145 

itself, to the intensification of the national 
power, and that by the most effective process ; 
for it relieves the nation from feeding upon itself, 
and makes the whole outer world contribute to 
its support. It is therefore a most proper 
object of attack; more humane, and more con- 
ducive to the objects of war, than the slaughter 
of men. A great check on war would be re- 
moved by assuring immunity to a nation's sea- 
borne trade, the life-blood of its power, the 
assurer of its credit, the purveyor of its comfort. 
This is the more necessary to observe, be- 
cause, while commerce thus on the one hand 
deters from war, on the other hand it engenders 
conflict, fostering ambitions and strifes which 
tend towards armed collision. Thus it has 
continuously been from the beginning of sea 
power. A conspicuous instance was afforded 
by the Anglo-Dutch wars of the seventeenth 
century. There were other causes of dissatis- 
faction between the two nations, but commer- 
cial jealousies, rivalry for the opening markets 
of the newly discovered hemispheres, and for 
the carrying trade of the world, was the under- 
lying national, as distinguished from the purely 
governmental motive, which inspired the fierce 

146 Considerations Governing 

struggle. Blood was indeed shed, in profusion ; 
but it was the suppression of maritime com- 
merce that caused the grass to grow in the 
streets of Amsterdam, and brought the Dutch 
Republic to its knees. This too, it was, that 
sapped the vital force of Napoleon's Empire, 
despite the huge tributes exacted by him from 
the conquered states of Europe, external to his 
own dominions. The commerce of our day 
has brought up children, nourished popula- 
tions, which now turn upon the mother, cry- 
ing for bread. " The place is too strait for 
us ; give place where we can sell more." The 
provision of markets for the production of an 
ever-increasing number of inhabitants is a lead- 
ing political problem of the day, the solution 
of which is sought by methods commercial and 
methods political, so essentially combative, so 
offensive and defensive in character, that direct 
military action would be only a development 
of them, a direct consequent ; not a breach of 
continuity in spirit, however it might be in 
form. As the interaction of commerce and 
finance shows a unity in the modern civilized 
world, so does the struggle for new markets, 
and for predominance in old, reveal the unsub- 

The Disposition of Navies 147 

dued diversity. Here every state is for itself ; 
and in every great state the look for the desired 
object is outward, just as it was in the days 
when England and Holland fought over the 
Spice Islands and the other worlds newly 
opening before them. Beyond the seas, now 
as then, are to be found regions scantily pop- 
ulated where can be built up communities with 
wants to be supplied ; while elsewhere are teem- 
ing populations who may be led or manipulated 
to recognize necessities of which they have be- 
fore been ignorant, and stimulated to provide 
for them through a higher development of their 
resources, either by themselves, or, preferably, 
through the exploitation of foreigners. 

We are yet but at the beginning of this 
marked movement, much as has been done 
in the way of partition and appropriation 
within the last twenty years. The regions — 
chiefly in Africa — which the Powers of Europe 
have divided by mutual consent, if not to mut- 
ual satisfaction, await the gradual process of 
utilization of their natural resources and con- 
sequent increase of inhabitants, the producers 
and consumers of a commerce yet to be in the 
distant future. The degree and rate of this 

148 Considerations Governing 

development must depend upon the special 
aptitudes of the self-constituted owners, whose 
needs meantime are immediate. Their eyes 
therefore turn necessarily for the moment to 
quarters where the presence of a population 
already abundant provides at once, not only 
numerous buyers and sellers, but the raw ma- 
terial of labor, by which, under suitable 
direction and with foreign capital, the present 
production may be multiplied. It is not too 
much to say that, in order further to promote 
this commercial action, existing political tenure 
is being assailed ; that the endeavor is to 
supplant it, as hindering the commercial, or 
possibly the purely military or political ambi- 
tions of the intruder. Commercial enterprise 
is never so secure, nor so untrammelled, as 
under its own flag; and when the present 
owner is obstructive by temperament, as China 
is, the impulse to overbear its political action 
by display of force tends to become ungovern- 
able. At all events the fact is notorious ; nor 
can it be seriously doubted that in several other 
parts of the globe aggression is only deterred 
by the avowed or understood policy of a power- 
ful opponent, not by the strength of the present 

The Disposition af Navies 149 

possessor. This is the significance of the new 
Anglo-Japanese agreement, and also of the 
more venerable Monroe Doctrine of the United 
States, though that is applicable in another 
quarter. The parties to either of these poli- 
cies is interested in the success of the other. 

It seems demonstrable, therefore, that as 
commerce is the engrossing and predominant 
interest of the world to-day, so, in consequence 
of its acquired expansion, oversea commerce, 
over-sea political acquisition, and maritime 
commercial routes are now the primary ob- 
jects of external policy among nations. The 
instrument for the maintenance of policy di- 
rected upon these objects is the Navy of the 
several States; for, whatever influence we at- 
tribute to moral ideas, which I have no wish 
to undervalue, it is certain that, while right 
rests upon them for its sanction, it depends 
upon force for adequate assertion against the 
too numerous, individuals or communities, who 
either disregard moral sanctions, or reason 
amiss concerning them. 

Further, it is evident that for the moment 
neither South America nor Africa is an imme- 
diate object of far-reaching commercial ambi- 

150 Considerations Governing 

tion, to be compassed by political action. 
Whatever the future may have in store for 
them, a variety of incidents have relegated 
them for the time to a position of secondary 
interest. Attention has centred upon the 
Pacific generally, and upon the future of China 
particularly. The present distribution of navies 
indicates this; for while largely a matter of 
tradition and routine, nevertheless the assign- 
ment of force follows the changes of political 
circumstances, and undergoes gradual modi- 
fications, which reflect the conscious or un- 
conscious sense of the nation that things are 
different. It is not insignificant that the pre- 
ponderant French fleet is now in the Mediter- 
ranean, whereas it once was in the Atlantic 
ports ; and memories which stretch a genera- 
tion back can appreciate the fact and the 
meaning of the diminution of British force on 
the east and west coasts of America, as also 
of the increase of Russian battleship force in 
China seas. Interests have shifted. 

Directly connected with these new centres 
of interest in the Far East, inseparable from 
them in fact or in policy, are the commercial 
routes which lead to them. For the commerce 

The Disposition of Navies 151 

and navies of Europe this route is by the Med- 
iterranean and the Suez Canal This is the 
line of communication to the objective of in- 
terest The base of all operation, political or 
military, — so far as the two are separable, — is 
in the mother countries. These — the base, 
the objective, and the communications — are 
the conditions of the problem by which the 
distribution of naval force is ultimately to be 
determined. It is to be remarked, however, 
that while the dominant factor of the three is 
the line of communication between base and ob- 
jective, the precise point or section of this upon 
which control rests, and on which mobile force 
must be directed, is not necessarily always the 
same. The distribution of force must have 
regard to possible changes of dispositions, as 
the conditions of a war vary. 

Every war has two aspects, the defensive 
and the offensive, to each of which there is 
a corresponding factor of activity. There is 
something to gain, the offensive ; there is some- 
thing to lose, the defensive. The ears of men, 
especially of the uninstructed, are more readily 
and sympathetically open to the demands of 
the latter. It appeals to the conservatism 

152 Considerations Governing 

which is dominant in the well-to-do, and to the 
widespread timidity which hesitates to take any 
risk for the sake of a probable though uncertain 
gain. The sentiment is entirely respectable in 
itself, and more than respectable when its power 
is exercised against breach of the peace for other 
than the gravest motives — for any mere lucre 
of gain. But its limitations must be under- 
stood. A sound defensive scheme, sustaining 
the bases of the national force, is the founda- 
tion upon which war rests ; but who lays a 
foundation without intending a superstructure? 
The offensive element in warfare is the super- 
structure, the end and aim for which the de- 
fensive exists, and apart from which it is to all 
purposes of war worse than useless. When 
war has been accepted as necessary, success 
means nothing short of victory; and victory 
must be sought by offensive measures, and by 
them only can be insured. " Being in, bear 
it, that the opposer may be ware of thee." No 
mere defensive attitude or action avails to such 
end. Whatever the particular mode of offen- 
sive action adopted, whether it be direct mili- 
tary attack, or the national exhaustion of the 
opponent by cutting off the sources of national 

The Disposition of Navies 153 

well-being, whatsoever method may be chosen, 
offence, injury, weakening of the foe, to anni- 
hilation if need be, must be the guiding pur- 
pose of the belligerent. Success will certainly 
attend him who drives his adversary into the 
position of the defensive and keeps him there. 
Offence therefore dominates, but it does not 
exclude. The necessity for defence remains 
obligatory, though subordinate. The two are 
complementary. It is only in the reversal of 
roles, by which priority of importance is as- 
signed to the defensive, that ultimate defeat is 
involved. Nor is this all. Though opposed 
in idea and separable in method of action, cir- 
cumstances not infrequently have permitted 
the union of the two in a single general plan 
of campaign, which protects at the same time 
that it attacks. " Fitz James's blade was sword 
and shield." Of this the system of blockades by 
the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars 
was a marked example. Thrust up against the 
ports of France, and lining her coasts, they 
covered — shielded — the operations of their 
own commerce and cruisers in every sea; 
while at the same time, crossing swords, as 
it were, with the fleets within, ever on guard, 

154 Considerations Governing 

ready to attack, should the enemy give an 
opening by quitting the shelter of his ports, 
they frustrated his efforts at a combination of 
his squadrons by which alone he could hope 
to reverse conditions. All this was defensive ; 
but the same operation cut the sinews of the 
enemy's power by depriving him of sea-borne 
commerce, and promoted the reduction of his 
colonies. Both these were measures of offence ; 
and both, it may be added, were directed upon 
the national communications, the sources of 
national well-being. The means was one, the 
effect two-fold. 

It is evident also that offensive action de- 
pends for energy upon the security of the 
several places whence its resources are drawn. 
These are appropriately called "bases," for 
they are the foundations — more exactly, per- 
haps, the roots — severed from which vigor 
yields to paralysis. Still more immediately 
disastrous would be the destruction or capture 
of the base itself. Therefore, whether it be 
the home country in general, the centre of 
the national power, or the narrower localities 
where are concentrated the materials of war- 
fare in a particular region, the base, by its 

The Disposition of Navies 1 5 5 

need of protection, represents distinctively the 
defensive element in any campaign. It must 
be secured at all hazards ; though, at the same 
time, be it clearly said, by recourse to means 
which shall least fetter the movements of the 
offensive factor — the mobile force, army or 
navy. On the other hand, the objective repre- 
sents with at least equal exclusiveness the 
offensive element; there, put it at the least, 
preponderance over the enemy, not yet exist- 
ent, is to be established by force. The mere 
effort to get from the base to the objective is 
an offensive movement ; but the ground inter- 
vening between the two is of more complex 
character. Here, on the line of communica- 
tions, offence and defence blend. Here the 
belligerent whose precautions secure suitable 
permanent positions, the defensive element, 
and to them assign proportionate mobile force, 
the offensive factor, sufficient by superiority to 
overpower his opponent, maintains, by so far 
and insomuch, his freedom and power of action 
at the distant final objective ; for he controls 
for his own use the indispensable artery 
through which the national life-blood courses 
to the distant fleet, and by the same act he 

156 Considerations Governing 

closes it to his enemy. Thus again offence 
and defence meet, each contributing its due 
share of effect, unified in method and result by 
an accurate choice of the field of exertion, of 
that section of the line of communications 
where power needs to be mainly exerted. 

In purely land warfare the relative strength 
of the opponents manifests itself in the length 
of the line of communications each permits itself; 
the distance, that is, which it ventures to ad- 
vance from its base towards the enemy. The 
necessary aim of both is superiority at the point 
of contact, to be maintained either by actual 
preponderance of numbers, or else by a combi- 
nation of inferior numbers with advantageous 
position. The original strength of each evi- 
dently affects the distance that he can thus 
advance, for the line of communication behind 
him must be secured by part of his forces, 
because upon it he depends for almost daily 
supplies. The weaker therefore can go least 
distance, and may even be compelled to remain 
behind the home frontier, — a bare defensive, 
— yielding the other the moral and material 
advantage of the offensive. But commonly, in 
land war, each adversary has his own line of 

The Disposition of Navies 1 5 7 

communication, which is behind him with re- 
spect to his opponent ; each being in a some- 
what literal sense opposite, as well as opposed, 
to the other, and the common objective, to be 
held by the one or carried by the other, lying 
between them. The strategic aim of both is to 
menace, or even to sever permanently, the 
other's communications ; for if they are imme- 
diately threatened he must retreat, and if sun- 
dered he must surrender. Either result is 
better obtained by this means than by the 
resort to fighting, for it saves bloodshed, and 
therefore economizes power for the purpose of 
further progress. 

Maritime war has its analogy to these con- 
ditions, but it ordinarily reproduces them with 
a modification peculiar to itself. In it the bel- 
ligerents are not usually on opposite sides of 
the common objective — though they may be so 
— but proceed towards it by lines that in gen- 
eral direction are parallel, or convergent, and 
may even be identical. England and France 
lie side by side, and have waged many mari- 
time wars; but while there have been excep- 
tions, as Gibraltar and Minorca, or when the 
command of the Channel was in dispute, the 

158 Considerations Governing 

general rule has been that the scene of opera- 
tions was far distant from both, and that both 
have approached it by substantially the same 
route. When the prospective theatre of war is 
reached, the fleet there depends partly upon 
secondary local bases of supplies, but ultimately 
upon the home country, which has continually 
to renew the local deposits, sending stores for- 
ward from time to time- over the same paths 
that the fleets themselves travelled. The secu- 
rity of those sea-roads is therefore essential 
and the dependence of the fleets upon them 
for supplies of every kind — pre-eminently of 
coal — -reproduces the land problem of commu- 
nications in a specialized form. The two have 
to contest the one line of communications vital 
to both. It becomes therefore itself an objec- 
tive, and all the more important because the 
security of military communications entails in 
equal measure that of the nation's commerce. 
In broad generalization, the maritime line of 
communications is the ocean itself, an open 
plain, limited by no necessary highways, such 
as the land has to redeem from the obstacles 
which encumber it, and largely devoid of the 
advantages of position that the conformation 

The Disposition of Navies 159 

of ground may afford in a shore battlefield. 
In so far control depends upon superior num- 
bers only, and the give and take which history 
records, where disparity has not been great, has 
gone far to falsify the frequent assertion that 
the ocean acknowledges but one mistress; but 
as the sea-road draws near a coast, the armed 
vessels that assail or protect are facilitated in 
their task if the shore affords them harbors 
of refuge and supply. A ship that has to go 
but fifty miles to reach her field of operation 
will do in the course of a year the work of 
several ships that have to go five hundred. 
Fortified naval depots at suitable points there- 
fore increase numerical force by multiplying it, 
quite as the possession of strategic points, or 
the lay of the ground of a battlefield, supply 
numerical deficiencies. 

Hence appears the singular strategic — and, 
because strategic, commercial — interest of a 
narrow or landlocked sea, which is multiplied 
manifold when it forms an essential link in an 
important maritime route. Many widely diver- 
gent tracks may be traced on the ocean's un- 
wrinkled brow; but specifically the one military 
line of communications between any two points 

160 Considerations Governing 

of its surface is that which is decisively the 
shortest. The measure of force between op- 
ponents in such a case depends therefore not 
only upon superiority at the objective point, 
but upon control of that particular line of 
communications; for so only can superiority 
be maintained. The belligerent who, for any 
disadvantage of numbers, or from inferiority 
of strength as contrasted with the combined 
numbers and position of his opponent, cannot 
sustain his dominant hold there is already 

To this consideration is due the supreme 
importance of the Mediterranean in the present 
conditions of the communications and policies 
of the world. From the commercial point of 
view it is much the shortest, and therefore the 
principal, sea route between Europe and the 
Farther East. At the present time very nearly 
one-third of the home trade, the exports and 
imports, of Great Britain originates in or passes 
through the Mediterranean ; and the single port 
of Marseilles handles a similar proportion of 
all the sea-borne commerce of France. From 
the military standpoint, the same fact of short- 
ness, combined with the number and rivalry 

The Disposition of Navies 1 6 1 

of national tenures established throughout its 
area, constitutes it the most vital and critical 
link in an interior line between two regions of 
the gravest international concern. In one of 
these, in Europe, are situated the bases, the 
home dominions, of the European Powers con- 
cerned, and in the other the present chief 
objective of external interest to all nations of 
to-day — that Farther East and western Pacific 
upon which so many events have conspired 
recently to fasten the anxious attention of the 

The Mediterranean therefore becomes neces- 
sarily the centre around which must revolve 
the strategic distribution of European navies. 
It does not follow, indeed, that the distribution 
of peace reproduces the dispositions for war; but 
it must look to them, and rest upon the com- 
prehension of them. The decisive point of 
action in case of war must be recognized and 
preparation made accordingly ; not only by the 
establishment of suitable positions, which is the 
naval strategy of peace, but by a distinct rela- 
tion settled between the numbers and distri- 
bution of vessels needed in war and those 

maintained in peace. The Mediterranean will 


1 62 Considerations Governing 

be either the seat of one dominant control, 
reaching thence in all directions, owning a sin- 
gle mistress, or it will be the scene of continual 
struggle. Here offence and defence will meet 
and blend in their general manifestation of 
mobile force and fortified stations. Elsewhere 
the one or the other will have its distinct 
sphere of predominance. The home waters 
and their approaches will be the scene of 
national defence in the strictest and most 
exclusive sense; but it will be defence that 
exists for the foundation, upon which reposes 
the struggle for, or the control of, the Mediter- 
ranean. The distant East, in whatever spot 
there hostilities may rage, will represent, will 
be, the offensive sphere ; but the determination 
of the result, in case of prolongation of war, 
will depend upon control of the Mediterranean. 
In the degree to which that is insured defence 
will find the test of its adequacy, and offence 
the measure of its efficiency. 

In this combination of the offensive and 
defensive factors the Mediterranean presents 
an analogy to the military conditions of insu- 
lar states, such as Great Britain and Japan, 
in which the problem of national defence 

The Disposition of Navies 163 

becomes closely identified with offensive action. 
Security, which is simply defence in its com- 
pleted result, depends for them upon control 
of the sea, which can be assured only by the 
offensive action of the national fleet. Its pre- 
dominance over that of the enemy is sword 
and shield. It is a singular advantage to have 
the national policy in the matter of military 
development and dispositions so far simplified 
and unified as it is by this consideration. It 
much more than compensates for the double 
line of communications open to a continental 
state, the two strings to its bow, by its double 
frontiers of sea and land ; for with the two 
frontiers there is double exposure as well as 
double utility. They require two-fold protective 
action, dissipating the energies of the nation by 
dividing them between two distinct objects, to 
the injury of both. 

An insular state, which alone can be purely 
maritime, therefore contemplates war from a 
position of antecedent probable superiority 
from the two-fold concentration of its policy; 
defence and offence being closely identified, 
and energy, if exerted judiciously, being fixed 
upon the increase of naval force to the clear 

164 Considerations Governing 

subordination of that more narrowly styled 
military. The conditions tend to minimize 
the division of effort between offensive and 
defensive purpose, and, by greater comparative 
development of the fleet, to supply a larger 
margin of disposable numbers in order to con- 
stitute a mobile superiority at a particular 
point of the general field. Such a decisive 
local superiority at the critical point of action 
is the chief end of the military art, alike in 
tactics and strategy. Hence it is clear that an 
insular state, if attentive to the conditions that 
should dictate its policy, is inevitably led to 
possess a superiority in that particular kind of 
force, the mobility of which enables it most 
readily to project its power to the more distant 
quarters of the earth, and also to change its 
point of application at will with unequalled 

The general considerations that have been 
advanced concern all the great European na- 
tions, in so far as they look outside their own 
continent, and to maritime expansion, for the 
extension of national influence and power ; but 
the effect upon the action of each differs neces- 
sarily according to their several conditions. 

The Disposition of Navies 165 

The problem of sea-defence, for instance, relates 
primarily to the protection of the national com- 
merce everywhere, and specifically as it draws 
near the home ports ; serious attack upon the 
coast, or upon the ports themselves, being a 
secondary consideration, because little likely to 
befall a nation able to extend its power far 
enough to sea to protect its merchant ships. 
From this point of view the position of Ger- 
many is embarrassed at once by the fact that 
she has, as regards the world at large, but one 
coast-line. To and from this all her sea com- 
merce must go; either passing the English 
Channel, flanked for three hundred miles by 
France on the one side and England on the 
other, or else going north about by the Orkneys, 
a most inconvenient circuit, and obtaining but 
imperfect shelter from recourse to this deflected 
route. Holland, in her ancient wars with Eng- 
land, when the two were fairly matched in 
point of numbers, had dire experience of this 
false position, though her navy was little inferior 
in numbers to that of her opponent. This is 
another exemplification of the truth that dis- 
tance is a factor equivalent to a certain number 
of ships. Sea-defence for Germany, in case of 

1 66 Considerations Governing 

war with France or England, means established 
naval predominance at least in the North Sea ; 
nor can it be considered complete unless ex- 
tended through the Channel and as far as 
Great Britain will have to project hers into 
the Atlantic. This is Germany's initial dis- 
advantage of position, to be overcome only 
by adequate superiority of numbers; and it 
receives little compensation from the security of 
her Baltic trade, and the facility for closing that 
sea to her enemies. In fact, Great Britain, 
whose North Sea trade is but one-fourth of her 
total, lies to Germany as Ireland does to Great 
Britain, flanking both routes to the Atlantic ; 
but the great development of the British sea- 
coast, its numerous ports and ample internal 
communications, strengthen that element of 
sea-defence which consists in abundant access 
to harbors of refuge. 

For the Baltic Powers, which comprise all 
the maritime States east of Germany, the com- 
mercial drawback of the Orkney route is a little 
less than for Hamburg and Bremen, in that the 
exit from the Baltic is nearly equidistant from 
the north and south extremities of England ; 
nevertheless the excess in distance over the Chan- 

The Disposition of Navies 167 

nel route remains very considerable. The initial 
naval disadvantage is in no wise diminished. 
For all the communities east of the Straits of 
Dover it remains true that in war commerce is 
paralyzed, and all the resultant consequences 
of impaired national strength entailed, unless 
decisive control of the North Sea is established. 
That effected, there is security for commerce by 
the northern passage ; but this alone is mere 
defence. Offence, exerted anywhere on the 
globe, requires a surplusage of force, over that 
required to hold the North Sea, sufficient to 
extend and maintain itself west of the British 
Islands. In case of war with either of the 
Channel Powers, this means, as between the 
two opponents, that the eastern belligerent has 
to guard a long line of communications, and 
maintain distant positions, against an antagonist 
resting on a central position, with interior lines, 
able to strike at choice at either wing of 
the enemy's extended front. The relation 
which the English Channel, with its branch 
the Irish Sea, bears to the North Sea and the 
Atlantic — that of an interior position — is the 
same which the Mediterranean bears to the 
Atlantic and the Indian Sea ; nor is it merely 

1 68 Considerations Governing 

fanciful to trace in the passage round the north 
of Scotland an analogy to that by the Cape of 
Good Hope. It is a reproduction in miniature. 
The conditions are similar, the scale different. 
What the one is to a war whose scene is the 
north of Europe, the other is to operations by 
European Powers in Eastern Asia. 

To protract such a situation is intolerable to 
the purse and morale of the belligerent who has 
the disadvantage of position. This of course 
leads us straight back to the fundamental prin- 
ciples of all naval war, namely, that defence is 
insured only by offence, and that the one de- 
cisive objective of the offensive is the enemy's 
organized force, his battle-fleet. Therefore, in 
the event of a war between one of the Chan- 
nel Powers, and one or more of those to the 
eastward, the control of the North Sea must be 
at once decided. For the eastern State it is a 
matter of obvious immediate necessity, of com- 
mercial self-preservation. For the western 
State the offensive motive is equally impera- 
tive; but for Great Britain there is defensive 
need as well. Her Empire imposes such a 
development of naval force as makes it eco- 
nomically impracticable to maintain an army 

The Disposition of Navies 169 

as large as those of the Continent. Security 
against invasion depends therefore upon the 
fleet. Postponing more distant interests, she 
must here concentrate an indisputable supe- 
riority. It is, however, inconceivable that 
against any one Power Great Britain should 
not be able here to exert from the first a pre- 
ponderance which would effectually cover all 
her remoter possessions. Only an economical 
decadence, which would of itself destroy her 
position among nations, could bring her so to 
forego the initial advantage she has, in the 
fact that for her offence and defence meet and 
are fulfilled in one factor, the command of the 
sea. History has conclusively demonstrated 
the inability of a state with even a single con- 
tinental frontier to compete in naval develop- 
ment with one that is insular, although of 
smaller population and resources. A coalition 
of Powers may indeed affect the balance. As 
a rule, however, a single state against a coali- 
tion holds the interior position, the concen- 
trated force ; and while calculation should 
rightly take account of possibilities, it should 
beware of permitting imagination too free sway 
in presenting its pictures. Were the eastern 

i jo Considerations Governing 

Powers to combine they might prevent Great 
Britain's use of the North Sea for the safe 
passage of her merchant shipping; but even 
so she would but lose commercially the whole 
of a trade, the greater part of which disappears 
by the mere fact of war. Invasion is not pos- 
sible, unless her fleet can be wholly disabled 
from appearing in that sea. From her geo- 
graphical position, she still holds her gates 
open to the outer world, which maintains three- 
fourths of her commerce in peace. 

As Great Britain, however, turns her eyes 
from the North and Baltic Seas, which in 
respect to her relations to the world at large 
may justly be called her rear, she finds con- 
ditions confronting her similar to those which 
position entails upon her eastern neighbors. 
Here, however, a comparison is to be made. 
The North Sea is small, its coast-line con- 
tracted, the entrance to the Baltic a mere 
strait. Naval preponderance once established, 
the lines of transit, especially where they draw 
near the land, are easily watched. Doubtless, 
access to the British Islands from the Atlantic, 
if less confined by geographical surroundings, 
is constricted by the very necessity of approach- 

The Disposition of Navies 1 7 1 

ing at all ; but a preponderant fleet maintained 
by Great Britain to the south-west, in the pro- 
longation of the Channel, will not only secure 
merchant shipping within its own cruising- 
ground, but can extend its support by outlying 
cruisers over a great area in every direction. 
A fleet thus in local superiority imposes upon 
cruisers from the nearest possible enemy — 
France — a long circuit to reach the northern 
approaches of the islands, where they will 
arrive more or less depleted of coal, and in 
danger from ships of their own class resting on 
the nearer ports of Scotland or Ireland. Su- 
periority in numbers is here again counterbal- 
anced by advantage of position. Vessels of 
any other country, south or east, are evidently 
under still greater drawbacks. 

As all the Atlantic routes and Mediterranean 
trade converge upon the Channel, this must 
be, as it always has been, among the most im- 
portant stations of the British Navy. In the 
general scheme its office is essentially defence. 
It protects the economical processes which 
sustain national endurance, and thus secures 
the foundation on which the vi^'or of war 
rests. But its scope must be sanely conceived. 

172 Considerations Governing 

Imaginative expectation and imaginative alarms 
must equally be avoided ; for both tend to 
exaggerate the development of defensive dispo- 
sitions at the expense of offensive power. En- 
tire immunity for commerce must not be 
anticipated, nor should an occasional severe 
blow be allowed to force from panic concessions 
which calm reason rejects. Inconvenience and 
injury are to be expected, and must be borne 
in order that the grasp upon the determining 
points of war may not be relaxed. It will be 
the natural policy of an enemy to intensify 
anxiety about the Channel, to retain or divert 
thither force which were better placed elsewhere. 
By the size of her navy and by her geographical 
situation France is the most formidable mari- 
time enemy of Great Britain, and therefore sup- 
plies the test to which British dispositions must 
be brought; but it is probable that in war, as 
now in peace, France must keep the larger part 
of her fleet in the Mediterranean. Since the 
days of Napoleon she has given hostages to for- 
tune in the acquisition of her possessions on the 
African continent and beyond Suez. Her po- 
sition in the Mediterranean has become to her 
not only a matter of national sentiment, which 

The Disposition of Navies 173 

it long has been, but a question of military 
importance much greater than when Corsica 
was all she owned there. It is most unlikely 
that Brest and Cherbourg combined will in 
our day regain the relative importance of the 
former alone, a century ago. 

In view of this, and barring the case of a 
coalition, I conceive that the battle-ships of the 
British Channel Fleet would not need to out- 
number those of France in the near waters by 
more than enough to keep actually at sea a 
force equal to hers. A surplus for reliefs would 
constitute a reserve for superiority; that is all. 
The great preponderance required is in the 
cruisers, who are covered in their operations 
by the battle-fleet ; the mere presence of the 
latter with an adequate scouting system se- 
cures them from molestation. Two classes 
of cruisers are needed, with distinct functions ; 
those which protect commerce by the strong 
hand and constant movement, and those that 
keep the battle-fleet informed of the enemy's 
actions. It is clear that the close watching of 
hostile ports, an operation strictly tactical, has 
undergone marked changes of conditions since 
the old days. The ability to go to sea and 

174 Considerations Governing 

steer any course under any conditions of wind, 
and the possibilities of the torpedo-boat, exag- 
gerated though these probably have been in 
anticipation, are the two most decisive new 
factors. To them are to be added the range 
of coast guns, which keeps scouts at a much 
greater distance than formerly, and the impos- 
sibility now of detecting intentions which once 
might be inferred from the conditions of masts 
and sails. 

On the other hand the sphere of effec- 
tiveness has been immensely increased for 
the scout by the power to move at will, and 
latterly by the wireless telegraphy. With high 
speed and large numbers, it should be possible 
to sweep the surroundings of any port so thor- 
oughly as to make the chance of undetected 
escape very small, while the transmission of 
the essential facts — the enemy's force and 
the direction taken — is even more certain 
than detection. A lookout ship to-day will 
not see an enemy going off south with a fresh 
fair breeze, which is for herself a head wind to 
reach her own fleet a hundred miles to the 
northward. She may not need even to steam 
to the main body ; but, telephoning the news, 

The Disposition of Navies 1 75 

she will seek to keep the enemy in sight, gath- 
ering round her for the same work all of her 
own class within reach of her electric voice. 
True, an enemy may double on his track, or 
otherwise ultimately elude ; but the test so 
imposed on military sagacity and inference is 
no greater than it formerly was. The data 
are different ; the problem of the same class. 
Where can he go fruitfully? A raid? Well, 
a raid, above all a maritime raid, is only a raid ; 
a black eye, if you will, but not a bullet in the 
heart, nor yet a broken leg. To join another 
fleet ? That is sound, and demands action ; 
but the British battle-fleet having immediate 
notice, and a fair probability of more informa- 
tion, should not be long behind. There is at 
all events no perplexity exceeding that with 
which men of former times dealt successfully. 
In the same way, and by the same methods, it 
should be possible to cover an extensive cir- 
cumference to seaward so effectively that a 
merchant vessel reaching any point thereof 
would be substantially secure up to the home 

The battle-fleet would be the tactical centre 
upon which both systems of scouts would rest. 

176 Considerations Governing 

To close-watch a port to-day requires vessels 
swifter than the battle-ships within, and 
stronger in the aggregate than their cruiser 
force. The former then cannot overtake to 
capture, nor outrun to elude; and the latter, 
which may overtake, cannot drive off their 
post, nor successfully fight, because inferior 
in strength. Add to the qualities thus de- 
fined sufficient numbers to watch by night 
the arc of a circle of five miles radius, of which 
the port is the centre, and you have disposi- 
tions extremely effective against an enemy's 
getting away unperceived. The vessels nearest 
in are individually so small that the loss 
of one by torpedo is militarily immaterial ; 
moreover, the chances will by no means all 
be with the torpedo-boat. The battle-fleet, a 
hundred or two miles distant it may be, and 
in a different position every night, is as safe 
from torpedo attack as ingenuity can place it. 
Between it and the inside scouts are the 
armored cruisers, faster than the hostile bat- 
tle-fleet, stronger than the hostile cruisers. 
These are tactical dispositions fit for to-day; 
and in essence they reproduce those of St. 
Vincent before Brest, and his placing of 

The Disposition of Navies 177 

Nelson at Cadiz with an inshore squadron, a 
century ago. " A squadron of frigates and cut- 
ters plying day and night in the opening of the 
Goulet; five ships-of-the-line anchored about 
ten miles outside ; and outside of them again 
three of-the-line under sail." The main body, 
the battle-fleet of that time, was from twenty- 
five to forty miles distant, — the equivalent in 
time of not less than a hundred miles to-day. 

Keeping in consideration these same waters, 
the office and function of the Channel Fleet 
may be better realized by regarding the battle- 
ships as the centre, from which depart the dis- 
positions for watching, not only the enemy's 
port, but also the huge area to seaward which 
it is desired to patrol efficiently for the security 
of the national commerce. Take a radius of 
two hundred miles; to it corresponds a semi- 
circle of six hundred, all within Marconi 
range of the centre. The battle-fleet never 
separates. On the far circumference move the 
lighter and swifter cruisers ; those least able to 
resist, if surprised by an enemy, but also the 
best able to escape, and the loss of one of which 
is inconsiderable, as of the inner cruisers off 
the port. Between them and the fleet are the 

178 Considerations Governing 

heavier cruisers, somewhat dispersed, in very 
open order, but in mutual touch, with a squad- 
ron organization and a plan of concentration, 
if by mischance an enemy's division come upon 
one of them unawares. Let us suppose, under 
such a danger, they are one hundred miles from 
the central body. It moves out at twelve miles 
an hour, they in at fifteen. Within four hours 
the force is united, save the light cruisers. 
These, as in all ages, must in large measure look 
out for themselves, and can do so very well. 

Granting, as required by the hypothesis, 
equality in battle-ships and a large prepon- 
derance in cruisers, — not an unreasonable de- 
mand upon an insular state, — it seems to me 
that for an essentially defensive function there 
is here a fairly reliable, systematized, working 
disposition. It provides a semi-circumference 
of six hundred miles, upon reaching any point 
of which a merchant ship is secure for the rest 
of her homeward journey. While maintained, 
the national frontier is by so much advanced, 
and the area of greatest exposure for the mer- 
chant fleet equally reduced. Outside this, 
cruising as formerly practised can extend very 
far a protection, which, if less in degree, is still 

The Disposition of Navies 179 

considerable. For this purpose, in my own 
judgment, and I think by the verdict of his- 
tory, dissociated single ships are less efficient 
than cruiser-squadrons, such as were illustrated 
by the deeds of Jean Bart and Pellew. One 
such, a half-dozen strong, west of Finisterre, 
and another west of Scotland, each under a 
competent chief authorized to move at discre- 
tion over a fairly wide area, beyond the baili- 
wick of the commander-in-chief, would keep 
enemies at a respectful distance from much 
more ground than he actually occupies; for 
it is to be remembered that the opponent's 
imagination of danger is as fruitful as one's 

In conception, this scheme is purely defen- 
sive. Incidentally, if opportunity offer to in- 
jure the enemy it will of course be embraced, 
but the controlling object is to remove the 
danger to home commerce by neutralizing the 
enemy's fleet. To this end numbers and force 
are calculated. This done, the next step is to 
consider the Mediterranean from the obvious 
and inevitable military point of view that it is 
the one and only central position, the assured 
control of which gives an interior line of opera- 

180 Considerations Governing 

tions from the western coast of Europe to the 
eastern waters of Asia. To have assured safety 
to the home seas and seaboard is little, except 
as a means to further action ; for, if to build 
without a foundation is disastrous, to lay 
foundations and not to be able to build 
is impotent, and that is the case where dis- 
proportioned care is given to mere defensive 
arrangements. The power secured and stored 
at home must be continually transmitted to 
the distant scene of operations, here assumed, 
on account of the known conditions of world 
politics, to be the western Pacific, which, under 
varying local designations, washes the shores 
of the Farther East. 

It has been said that in the Mediterranean, 
as the principal link in the long chain of 
communications, defence and offence blend. 
Moreover, since control here means assured 
quickest transmission of reinforcements and 
supplies in either direction, it follows that, 
while preponderance in battle-ship force is 
essential in the Far East, where if war occurs 
the operations will be offensive, such predom- 
inance in the Mediterranean, equally essential 
in kind, must be much greater in degree. In 

The Disposition of Navies 1 8 1 

fact, the offensive fleet in the Eastern Seas and 
the defensive fleet in the Channel are the two 
wings, or flanks, of a long front of operations, 
the due security of both of which depends upon 
the assured tenure of the central position. 
Naturally, therefore, the Mediterranean fleet, 
having to support both, possibly even to de- 
tach hurriedly to one or the other, has in it- 
self that combination of defensive and offen- 
sive character which ordinarily inheres in sea 
communications as such. 

If this assertion be accepted in general state- 
ment, it will be fortified by a brief considera- 
tion of permanent conditions; with which it 
is further essential to associate as present tem- 
porary factors the existing alliances between 
France and Russia, Great Britain and Japan. 
The Triple Alliance, of the renewal of which 
we are assured, does not contemplate among 
its objects any one that is directly affected by 
the control of the Mediterranean. Should an 
individual member engage in war having its 
scene there, it would be as a power untram- 
melled by this previous engagement. 

History and physical conformation have 
constituted unique strategic conditions in the 

1 82 Considerations Governing 

Mediterranean. To history is due the exist- 
ing tenure of positions, the bases, of varying 
intrinsic value, and held with varying degrees 
of power and firmness by several nations in 
several quarters. To examine these minutely 
and weigh their respective values as an ele- 
ment of strategic effect would be indeed essen- 
tial to the particular planning of a naval cam- 
paign, or to the proper determination of the 
distribution of naval force, with a view to the 
combinations open to one's self or the enemy; 
but a paper dealing with general conditions 
may leave such detailed considerations to those 
immediately concerned. It must be sufficient 
to note the eminently central position of Malta, 
the unique position of Gibraltar, and the ex- 
centric situation of Toulon relatively to the 
great trade route. By conformation the Med- 
iterranean has, besides the artificial canal, — 
the frailest and most doubtful part of the chain, 
— at least three straits of the utmost decisive 
importance, because there is to them no alter- 
native passage by which vessels can leave the 
sea, or move from one part of it to another. 
In the Caribbean Sea, which is a kind of Med- 
iterranean, the multiplicity of islands and pas- 

The Disposition of Navies 183 

sages reduces many of them to inconsequence, 
and qualifies markedly the effect of even the 
most important; but, in the Mediterranean, 
the Dardanelles, Gibraltar, and the belt of 
water separating the toe of Italy from Cape 
Bon in Africa, constitute three points of transit 
which cannot be evaded. It is true that in the 
last the situation of the island of Sicily allows 
vessels to go on its either side; but the sur- 
rounding conditions are such that it is scarcely 
possible for a fleet to pass undetected by an 
adversary making due use of his scouts. 
These physical peculiarities, conjointly with 
the positions specified, are the permanent fea- 
tures, which must underlie and control all 
strategic plans of Mediterranean Powers, among 
whom Russia must be inferentially included. 
Geographically, Great Britain is an intruder 
in the Mediterranean. Her presence there at 
all, in territorial tenure, is distinctively military. 
This is witnessed also by the character of her 
particular possessions. Nowhere does the vital 
energy of sea power appear more conspicu- 
ously, as self-expansive and self-dependent. 
To its historical manifestation is due the acqui- 
sitions which make the strength of her present 

184 Considerations Governing 

position; but, as in history, so now, sea power 
itself must continue to sustain that which it 
begat. The habitual distribution of the war- 
ships of the United Kingdom must provide for 
a decisive predominance here, upon occasion 
arising, over any probable combination of 
enemies. Such provision has [to take account 
not only of the total force of hostile divisions 
within and without the Mediterranean, but of 
movements intended to transfer one or more 
from or to that sea from other scenes of opera- 
tions. Prevention of these attempts is a ques- 
tion, not of numbers chiefly, but of position, 
of stations assigned, of distribution. Predom- 
inance, to be militarily effectual, means not 
only an aggregate superiority to the enemy 
united, but ability to frustrate, before accom- 
plishment, concentrations which might give 
him a local superiority anywhere. This is a 
question of positions more even than of num- 
bers. In the Mediterranean, as the great 
centre, these two factors must receive such 
mutual adjustment as shall outweigh the com- 
bination of them on the part of the adversary. 
Where one is defective the other must be in- 
creased. The need is the more emphatic when 

The Disposition of Navies 185 

the nation itself is external and distant from 
the sea, while possible antagonists, as Russia 
and France, are territorially contiguous ; for 
it can scarcely be expected that the Russian 
Black Sea fleet would not force its way through 
the Dardanelles upon urgent occasion. 

Evidently, too, Japan cannot in the near 
future contribute directly to maintain Great 
Britain in the Mediterranean. On the con- 
trary, the declarations of Russia and France 
make plain that, if war arise, Japan must be 
supported in the Far East by her ally against 
a coalition, the uncertain element of which is 
the force that France will feel able to spare 
from her scattered, exposed interests. Russia 
labors under no such distraction ; her single- 
ness of eye is shown by the fact that the more 
efficient, and by far the larger part, of her so- 
called Baltic fleet is now in the waters of China. 
In numbers and force she has there a sub- 
stantial naval equality with Japan, but under 
a disadvantage of position like that of Great 
Britain in the Mediterranean, in being remote 
from the centre of her power, imperfectly based, 
as yet, upon local resources, and with home 
communications by the shortest route gravely 

1 86 Considerations Governing 


uncertain. Under these circumstances the 
decided step she has taken in the reinforcement 
of her Eastern Navy, carries the political in- 
ference that she for the present means to seek 
her desired access to unfrozen waters in East- 
ern Asia, preferably to the Mediterranean or the 
Persian Gulf. Having in view local difficulties 
and antagonistic interests elsewhere, this con- 
clusion was probably inevitable; but its evident 
acceptance is notable. 

For Great Britain it is also most opportune ; 
and this raises a further question, attractive to 
speculative minds, viz.: whether the Anglo- 
Japanese agreement has had upon Russia a 
stimulating or a deterrent effect ? If it has in- 
creased her determination to utilize her present 
advantages, as represented in Port Arthur and 
its railroad, it would be in the direct line of 
a sound British policy ; for it fixes the rea- 
sonable satisfaction of Russia's indisputable 
needs in a region remote from the greater in- 
terests of Great Britain, yet where attempts 
at undue predominance will elicit the active 
resistance of many competitors, intent upon 
their own equally indisputable rights. The 
gathering of the eagles on the coasts of China 

The Disposition of Navies 187 

is manifest to the dullest eye. But should the 
alliance have the contrary effect of checking 
Russian development in that direction, her 
irrepressible tendency to the sea is necessarily 
thrown upon a quarter — the Levant or Persia 
— more distinctly ominous, and where, in the 
last named at least, Great Britain would find 
no natural supporter, enlisted by similarity of 
interest. The concentration of Russian ships 
in the East, taken in connection with the gen- 
eral trend of events there, is, however, as clear 
an indication of policy as can well be given. 

In connection with the substantial numerical 
equality of Japan and Russia is to be taken, 
as one of the ascertained existing conditions, 
instituted so recently as to have a possi- 
ble political significance, the reorganization 
of the French divisions beyond Suez into a 
single command, and the numbers thereto 
assigned. It is not to be supposed that this 
new disposition has been adopted without con- 
sideration of the new combinations indicated 
by the Anglo-Japanese treaty. It may even be 
in direct consequence. The relative strengths 
of this extensive eastern command and of the 
French Mediterranean fleet should in close 

1 88 Considerations Governing 

measure reflect the official consciousness of the 
general naval situation, and of the power of 
France to give support to her recognized ally ; 
directly in the East, and indirectly by military 
influence exerted upon the Mediterranean. 
Supposing Great Britain, on the other hand, 
to have made provision for the defensive con- 
trol of the approaches to her home ports, how 
will she, and how can she, assure the joint 
ascendency of herself and her ally in the Farther 
East, the scene of the offensive, and her own 
single preponderance in the Mediterranean, 
the main link in the communications? These 
are the two intricate factors for consideration, 
calling for plans and movements not primarily 
defensive but offensive in scope. For France 
and for Great Britain, as a party to an alliance, 
the question is urgent, "How far can I go, 
how much spare from the Mediterranean to 
the East? In assisting my ally there, unless 
I bring him predominance, or at least nearly 
an equality, I waste my substance, little help- 
ing him. If paralyzed in the Mediterranean, 
thrown on a mere defensive, my force in the 
East is practically cut off. Like a besieged 
garrison, it may endure till relieved ; but the 

The Disposition of Navies 189 

situation is critical while it lasts, and carries 
imminent possibilities of disaster." 

In approaching a military subject of this 
character it is necessary first and for all to 
disabuse the mind of the idea that a scheme 
can be devised, a disposition imagined, by 
which all risk is eliminated. Such an attrac- 
tive condition of absolute security, if realized, 
would eliminate all war along with its risks. A 
British distribution, most proper for the Medi- 
terranean alone, may entail the danger that a 
hostile body may escape into the Atlantic, may 
unite with the Brest and Cherbourg divisions 
against the Channel Fleet, and overwhelm the 
latter. True ; but imagination must work both 
ways. It may also be that the escape cannot 
but be known at Gibraltar, telegraphed to 
England, and the fleet warned betimes so that 
the reserve ships, which give it a superiority to 
either detachment of the enemy, might join, 
and that its scouts, stationed as previously 
suggested, would gain for it the two hours of 
time needed to deal decisively with one division 
before the other turns up. These probabilities, 
known to the enemy, affect his actions just as 
ones own risks move one's self. Listen to Nel- 

190 Considerations Governing 

son contemplating just this contingency. " If 
the Ferrol squadron joins the Toulon, they will 
much outnumber us, but in that case I shall 
never lose sight of them, and Pellew " (from 
before Ferrol) " will soon be after them." But 
he adds, confirmatory of the need of numerous 
scouts, then as now, " I at this moment want 
ten frigates or sloops, when I believe neither 
the Ferrol or Toulon squadron could escape 
me." By this, I understand, is clearly inti- 
mated that he could look out both ways, in- 
tercept the first comer, frustrate the junction, 
and beat them in detail. If not before the 
action, Pellew would arrive in time to repair 
Nelson's losses and restore equality. The 
change in modern conditions would favor the 
modern Pellew more than the adversary. 

So again disturbing political possibilities 
must be reasonably viewed. It may be that 
the whole Continent not only dislikes Great 
Britain, but would willingly combine for her 
military destruction ; and that, if war begin, 
such a combination may come to pass. It may 
be; but this at least is certain, that interest, 
not liking, will decide so grave a matter. 
In the calculation of final issues, of national 

The Disposition of Navies 191 

expenditure, of profit and loss, of relative na- 
tional predominance resulting from a supposed 
success, I incline to think that Imperial Feder- 
ation will be a far less difficult achievement than 
framing such a coalition. If the two dual alli- 
ances, the mutual opposition of which is appar- 
ent, come to blows, Germany may see it to her 
interest to strike hands with Russia and France; 
but it seems to me it would be so much more 
her interest to let them exhaust themselves, to 
the relief of her two flanks, that I find it diffi- 
cult to believe she would not herself so view 
the question. There is one qualifying consid- 
eration. Germany cannot but wish a modifica- 
tion in the effect exerted upon her maritime 
routes by the position of Great Britain, already 
noted. As geographical situation cannot be 
changed, the only modification possible is the 
decrease of Great Britain's power by the les- 
sening of her fleet. But, grant that object 
gained by such coalition, what remains? A 
Channel dominated by the French Navy no 
longer checked by the British ; whereas with 
the latter as an ally the Channel would be 
almost as safe as the Kiel canal. If this re- 
mark is sound, it is but an illustration of the 

192 Considerations Governing 

choice of difficulties presented by attempts to 
change permanent conditions by artificial com- 
binations. As a matter of fact, no single power 
in Europe, save possibly Russia, is individually 
so weighty as to see without apprehension the 
effective elimination of any one factor in the 
present balance of power. The combined posi- 
tion and numbers of Russia do give her a great 
defensive security in her present tenures. 

Admitting the Mediterranean to be distinc- 
tively and pre-eminently the crucial feature in 
any strategic scheme that contemplates Europe 
and the Farther East as the chief factors of 
interest, the positions before enumerated, in 
conjunction with the relative forces of the fleets, 
constitute the initial strategic situation. As- 
suming, as is very possible, that the decisive 
predominance, local or general, desired by either 
party, does not yet exist, the attempt of each 
must be to reach some preponderance by play- 
ing the game of war ; by such applied pressure 
or strategic movements as shall procure a deci- 
sive momentary preponderance in some quarter, 
the due use of which, by the injury done the 
enemy, shall establish a permanent and decisive 
superiority. This is the one object of war sci- 

The Disposition of Navies 193 

entifically — or better, artistically — - considered. 
The nation that begins with the stronger fleet 
should initiate some offensive action, with the 
object of compelling the enemy to fight. This 
the latter cannot do, unless already in adequate 
strength at some one point, except by under- 
taking to combine his divided forces so as to 
effect a concentration in some quarter. The 
movements necessary to accomplish this are 
the opportunity of the offensive, to strike the 
converging divisions before their junction gives 
the desired local superiority. Herein is the 
skill ; herein also the chance, the unexpected, 
the risk, which the best authorities tell us are 
inseparable from war, and constitute much of 
its opportunity as of its danger. 

How shall the superior fleet exercise the 
needed compulsion ? Ships cannot invade ter- 
ritory, unless there be unprotected navigable 
rivers. The stronger navy therefore cannot 
carry war beyond the sea-coast, home to the 
heart of the enemy, unless indeed its nation in 
addition to controlling the sea, can transport 
an overpowering force of troops. Of this the 
Transvaal war offers an illustration. Possibly, 
a disabling blow to the British fleet by the 


194 Considerations Governing 

navy of one of the great continental armies 
might present a somewhat similar instance ; but 
when the British fleet is thus enfeebled, Great 
Britain will be exposed to the conditions which 
it must be her own first effort, with her supreme 
navy, to impose on an opponent. Under such 
circumstances, there will be no need for an 
enemy to land an invading host on British soil. 
The interception of commerce at a half-dozen 
of the principal ports will do the work as surely, 
if less directly. Similarly, while the British 
Navy is what it is, the destruction of an enemy's 
commerce, not only by scattered cruisers at 
sea, hut by a systematized, coherent effort 
directed against his ports and coasts, both 
home and colonial, must be the means of in- 
flicting such distress and loss as shall compel 
his fleet to fight ; or, if it still refuse, shall sap 
endurance by suffering and extenuation. 

To effect this requires a battle-fleet superior 
in the aggregate to the one immediately op- 
posed to it by at least so many ships as shall 
suffice to allow a constant system of reliefs. 
The battle-fleet is the solid nucleus of power. 
From it radiates the system of cruisers by 
which the trade blockade is maintained in 

The Disposition of Navies 195 

technical, and as far as may be, in actual, effi- 
ciency. In case of hostilities with France, for 
example, the blockade of a principal commer- 
cial port, like Havre or Marseille, may be sus- 
tained in local efficiency by cruisers ; but the 
security of these, and consequently the main- 
tenance of the blockade, will depend upon such 
proximity of the battle-fleet as will prevent the 
French divisions at Cherbourg, Brest, or Toulon, 
from attacking them, except at great risk of 
being compelled to an engagement which it is 
presumably the specific aim of the British fleet 
to force. " Not blockade but battle is my aim," 
said Nelson : " on the sea alone we hope to 
realize the hopes and expectations of our coun- 
try." A successful battle in any one quarter 
clears up the whole situation ; that is, in pro- 
portion to the results obtained. This qualifi- 
cation is always to be borne in mind by a 
victorious admiral ; for the general relief to his 
nation will correspond to the use made by him 
of the particular advantage gained. More or 
fewer of his ships will be liberated from their 
previous tasks, and can reinforce the station 
where the most assured predominance is desired. 
This by our analysis is the Mediterranean. 

196 Considerations Governing 

History has more than once shown how 
severe a compulsion may be exerted over an 
extensive coast by proper dispositions. Where 
a formidable, though inferior, navy lies in the 
ports of the blockaded state, the position and 
management of the battle-fleet, on either side, 
is the critical military problem. The task of the 
cruisers is simple, if arduous ; to keep near the 
port assigned them, to hold their ground against 
equals, to escape capture by superior force. The 
battle-fleet must be so placed as effectually to 
cover the cruisers from the enemy's fleet, with- 
out unduly exposing itself ; above all to torpedo 
attack. It must be on hand, not only to fight, 
but to chase to advantage, to make strategic 
movements, perhaps extensive in range, at short 
notice. War is a business of positions. Its posi- 
tion, suitably chosen, by supporting the cruiser 
force, covers the approaches of the national com- 
merce, and also maintains both the commercial 
blockade and the close watch of the military 
ports. It may be noted that the commer- 
cial blockade is offensive in design, to injure 
the enemy and compel him to fight, while 
the other specified functions of the vessels 
are defensive. We therefore have here again 

The Disposition of Navies 197 

a combination of the two purposes in a single 

For some time to come nations distinctively 
European must depend upon the Mediterra- 
nean as their principal military route to the 
Far East. In the present condition of the 
Siberian railroad, Russia shares this common 
lot. While the other States have no land route 
whatever, hers is still so imperfect as not to 
constitute a valid substitute. Moreover, what- 
ever resources of moderate bulk may be locally 
accumulated, — coal, provisions, ammunition, 
and stores of various kinds, — reinforcements 
of vessels, or reliefs to ships disabled by service 
or in battle can go only by sea. Guns beyond 
a certain calibre are in like case. Every con- 
sideration emphasizes the importance of the 
Mediterranean. To it the Red Sea is simply 
an annex, the military status of which will be 
determined by that of its greater neighbor, 
qualified in some measure by the tenure of 
Egypt and Aden. 

On the farther side of the isthmus, the naval 
operations throughout Eastern seas will depend 
for sustained vigor upon contact militarily 
maintained with the Mediterranean, and 

198 Considerations Governing 

through that with home. In these days of 
cables, the decisive importance of Malta to 
India, recognized by Nelson and his contem- 
poraries, is affirmed with quadruple force of 
the sea in which Malta is perhaps the most 
conspicuously important naval position. Rein- 
forcements sent by the Cape, whether west or 
east, can always be anticipated at either end of 
the road by the Power which holds the interior 

As regards special dispositions for the East- 
ern seas, embracing under that name all from 
Suez to Japan, the same factors — numbers and 
position — dictate distribution. To a central 
position, if such there be, must be assigned 
numbers adequate to immediate superiority, in 
order to control commercial routes, and to 
operate against the enemy whose approximate 
force and position are known. Such assign- 
ment keeps in view, necessarily, the possibilities 
of receiving reinforcements from the Mediter- 
ranean, or having to send them to China. Cey- 
lon, for example, if otherwise suitable, is nearly 
midway between Suez and Hong-Kong; in 
round numbers, 3000 miles from each. Such 
a position favors a force of battle-ships as 

The Disposition of Navies 199 

an advanced squadron from the Mediterranean, 
and would be a provision against a mishap at 
the canal interrupting reinforcements eastward. 
Position, with its two functions of distance and 
resources; there is nothing more prominent 
than these in Napoleons analysis of a military 
situation. Numbers go, as it were, without 
saying. Where the power was his he multiplied 
them ; but he always remembered that position 
multiplies spontaneously. He who has but 
half-way to go does double work. This is the 
privilege of central position. 

The question of the Eastern seas introduces 
naturally the consideration of what the great 
self-governing colonies can do, not only for 
their own immediate security, and that of their 
trade, but for the general fabric of Imperial 
naval action, in the coherence of which they 
will find far greater assurance than in merely 
local effort. The prime naval considerations 
for them are that the British Channel Fleet 
should adequately protect the commerce and 
shores of the British Islands, and that the 
Mediterranean Fleet should insure uninter- 
rupted transit for trade and for reinforcements. 
These effected and maintained, there will be 

200 Considerations Governing 

no danger to their territory; and little to their 
trade except from single cruisers, which will 
have a precarious subsistence as compared 
with their own, based upon large self-support- 
ing political communities. Australasia, how- 
ever, can undoubtedly supply a very important 
factor, that will go far to fortify the whole 
British position in the Far East. A continent 
in itself, with a thriving population, and willing, 
apparently, to contribute to the general naval 
welfare, let it frame its schemes and base its 
estimates on sound lines, both naval and im- 
perial ; naval, by allowing due weight to battle 
force; imperial, by contemplating the whole, 
and recognizing that local safety is not always 
best found in local precaution. There is a 
military sense, in which it is true that he who 
loses his life shall save it. 

In the Eastern seas, Australia and China 
mark the ' extremities of two long lines, the 
junction of which is near India; let us say, for 
sake of specificness, Ceylon. They are off- 
shoots, each, of one branch, the root of which 
under present conditions, is the English Chan- 
nel, and the trunk the Mediterranean. Now it 
is the nature of extremities to be exposed. To 

The Disposition of Navies 20 r 

this our feet, hands, and ears bear witness, as 
does the military aphorism about salients ; but 
while local protection has its value in these 
several cases, the general vigor and sustenance 
of the organism as a whole is the truer de- 
pendence. To apply this simile: it appears 
to me that the waters from Suez eastward 
should be regarded as a military whole, vitally 
connected with the system to the westward, 
but liable to temporary interruption at the 
Canal, against which precaution must be had. 
This recognizes at once the usual dependence 
upon the Channel and the Mediterranean, and 
the coincident necessity of providing for inde- 
pendent existence on emergency. In the na- 
ture of things there must be a big detachment 
east of Suez ; the chance of its being momen- 
tarily cut off there is not so bad as its being 
stalled on the other side, dependent on the 
Cape route to reach the scene. But for the 
same reason that the Mediterranean and Malta 
are strategically eminent, because central, (as is 
likewise the Channel with reference to the 
North Sea and Atlantic), the permanent stra- 
tegic centre of the Eastern seas is not by 
position in China, nor yet in Australia. It is 

202 Considerations Governing 

to be found rather at a point which, approxi- 
mately equidistant from both, is also equi- 
distant from the Mediterranean and the East. 
Permanent, I say; not as ignoring that the 
force which there finds its centre may have 
to remove, and long to remain, at one extrem- 
ity or another of the many radii thence issu- 
ing, but because there it is best placed to 
move in the shortest time in any one of the 
several directions. That from the same centre 
it best protects the general commercial inter- 
ests is evident from an examination of the 
maps and of commercial returns. 

Whether the essential unity of scope in naval 
action east of Suez should receive recognition 
by embracing Australia, China, and India, 
under one general command, with local sub- 
ordinates, is a question administrative as well 
as strategic. As military policy it has a good 
side; for commanders previously independent 
do not always accept ungrudgingly the intrusion 
of a superior because of emergency of war. 
Military sensitiveness cannot prudently be left 
out of calculations. There would be benefit 
also in emphasizing in public consciousness the 
essential unity of mill tary considerations, which 

The Disposition of Navies 203 

should dominate the dispositions of the fleet. 
Non-professional — and even military — minds 
need the habit of regarding local and general 
interests in their true relations and proportions. 
Unless such correct appreciation exist, it is 
hard to silence the clamor for a simple local 
security, which is apparent but not real, because 
founded on a subdivision and dissemination of 
force essentially contrary to sound military 
principle. What Australasia needs is not her 
petty fraction of the Imperial navy, a squadron 
assigned to her in perpetual presence, but an 
organization of naval force which constitutes a 
firm grasp of the universal naval situation. 
Thus danger is kept remote ; but, if it should 
approach, there is insured within reaching dis- 
tance an adequate force to repel it betimes. 
There may, however, be fairly demanded the 
guarantee for the fleet's action, in a develop- 
ment of local dock-yard facilities and other 
resources which shall insure its maintenance in 
full efficiency if it have to come. 

In this essential principle other colonies 
should acquiesce. The essence of the matter 
is that local security does not necessarily, nor 
usually, depend upon the constant local presence 

204 Considerations Governing 

of a protector, ship or squadron, but upon gen- 
eral dispositions. As was said to and of Rod- 
ney, " Unless men take the great line, as you 
do, and consider the King's whole dominions 
as under their care, the enemy must find us 
unprepared somewhere. It is impossible to 
have a superior fleet in every part." 

It is impossible ; and it is unnecessary, grant- 
ing the aggregate superiority at which Great 
Britain now aims. In the question of the dis- 
position of force three principal elements are 
distinguishable in the permanent factors which 
we classify under the general head of " posi- 
tion." These are, the recognition of central 
positions, of interior lines — which means, 
briefly, shorter lines — and provision of abun- 
dant local dock-yard equipment in its widest 
sense. These furnish the broad outline, the 
skeleton of the arrangement. They consti- 
tute, so to say, the qualitative result of the 
analysis which underlies the whole calcula- 
tion. Add to it the quantitative estimate of 
the interests at stake, the dangers at hand, 
the advantages of position, in the several 
quarters, and you reach the assignment of 
numbers, which shall make the dry bones 

The Disposition of Navies 205 

live with all the energy of flesh and blood in a 
healthy body ; where each member is supported, 
not by a local congestion of vitality, but by the 
vigor of the central organs which circulate 
nourishment to each in proportion to its 



June, 1902. 

THE American whom above all others 
his countrymen delight to honor, more 
even to-day than a century ago, as his sober 
wisdom and unselfish patriotism stand in 
stronger relief on the clear horizon of the past, 
when he took leave of public life, cautioned 
his fellow-citizens of that day against " perma- 
nent inveterate antipathies against particular 
nations." In uttering this warning, to which 
he added certain obvious corollaries as to the 
effect of prejudice, sympathetic as well as anti- 
pathetic, upon action, Washington had vividly 
in mind American conditions, both present 
and past, of which he had had bitter official 
experience. His own people had then divided, 
and was still farther dividing, in sentiment and 
utterance, upon lines of sympathy for and 
against Great Britain and France. Impas- 


210 The Persian Gulf and 

sioned feeling and fervent speech were doing 
the deadly work he deplored, in setting man 
against man, and to some extent section 
against section, upon issues which were at 
least not purely of American interest Harm- 
ful at any time, such an opposition of mis- 
placed emotions was peculiarly dangerous then, 
when the still recent union under the Consti- 
tution of 1789 had not yet had time to obliter- 
ate the colonial habits of thought, to which the 
common term " American " loomed far less 
large, and was far less dear, than the local 
appellations of the several States. This in- 
spired Washington's further very serious and, 
to use his own word, " affectionate " counsels 
against the spirit of faction and disunion, 
which, though not confined to our political 
community, presented special perils to one but 
lately organized. 

Nor w 7 as it only against immediate instances 
of inveterate national antipathies that Wash- 
ington uttered his warning. These served 
him merely as pointed illustrations. He based 
his counsels, as advice to be sound must ever 
be based, upon permanent general principles. 
International relations, he said, were not de- 

International Relations 211 

termined, and should not be determined, by 
sympathy, but by justice and by interest. Jus- 
tice of course first. However onerous and 
unsatisfactory, "let existing engagements be 
observed in their genuine sense." Beyond this, 
" keep constantly in view that 't is folly in one 
nation to look for disinterested favors from 
another; that it must pay with a portion of 
its independence for whatever it may accept 
under that character; that by acceptance it 
may place itself in the condition of having 
given equivalent for nominal favors, and yet 
of being reproached with ingratitude for not 
giving more." 

Here again, in this slightly veiled allusion 
to the French alliance, was indicated the in- 
trusion of bias into international relations. 
The help extended by France to the American 
struggle for independence was indeed real ; 
but as a favor, though given that coloring, it 
was purely nominal. Yet upon it, so regarded, 
were based extravagant claims, not only for 
American sympathy, but for American active 
support in the early days of the French Revo- 
lution. Sight was lost of the notorious fact, 
that, however disinterested the action of indi- 

2 1 2 The Persian Gulf and 

vidual Frenchmen, the French government, 
with proper regard to the interests of its own 
nation, had simply utilized the revolt of the 
colonies to renew its old struggle with Great 
Britain under favorable conditions. A large 
number of Americans, treasuring the then 
recent occasions of bitter hostility to Great 
Britain, responded vehemently; another numer- 
ous party, alienated by republican excesses in 
France, and seeing a truer ideal of liberty in 
British institutions, recoiled with equal vigor. 
At a moment when every consideration of ex- 
pediency dictated political detachment, to the 
intensification of national life, by pruning 
superfluous activitives and concentrating vital 
force upon internal consolidation and develop- 
ment, a vast motive power of passion and 
prejudice was aroused, misdirecting national 
energy into channels where it not merely ran 
to waste but corroded the foundations of the 
Union. On one side and the other, the ideals 
of national duty and policy became confused 
with the names of foreign peoples, leading to 
a bitterness of antagonism that prolonged 
through a generation the immaturity of the 
affection uniting the States ; maintaining an 

International Relations 2 1 


internal weakness which manifested itself re- 
currently with each fresh cause of variance, 
and entailed continued feebleness of external 
influence until it disappeared forever in the 
agonies of civil war. 

It will doubtless be argued that there is now 
general recognition that reasoned interest, 
controlled by justice, is the true regulator of 
state policy. Possibly; but does practice 
coincide ? Is national calmness or harmony 
undisturbed, national force unweakened, by 
sympathies and antipathies which, however 
otherwise justified, have no proper place in 
perturbing international conduct ? The foster- 
ing of an internal spirit of faction is not the 
only evil effect on national judgment that may 
arise from extra-national repulsions or attrac- 
tions. The immediate evil of disruption, which 
then threatened the United States, is indeed 
not imminent for political communities of long- 
standing consolidation ; but even into them 
prepossession indulged for or against other 
peoples, as such, introduces a motive which 
is to national efficiency what a morbid growth 
is to the health of the body. The functions 
are vitiated, vision impaired, and movement 

214 The Persian Gulf and 

undecided or misdirected; perhaps both. A 
tendency arises to seek the solution of diffi- 
culties in artificial and sometimes complicated 
international arrangements, contemplating an 
indefinite future, instead of in simple national 
procedure meeting each new situation as it 
develops, governed by a settled general national 
policy. The latter course may at times incur 
the reproach of inconsistency through the in- 
evitable necessity of conforming particular 
measures to unforeseen emergencies ; but it 
may none the less remain most truly consistent 
in its fixed regard to a few evident leading 
conditions for which permanency may be pre- 
dicated. Washington, a man wise with the 
wisdom that comes of observation in practical 
life, phrased this for his countrymen, in the 
connection already quoted, in the words, " Con- 
sulting the natural course of things, forcing 
nothing ; " or, as an American experienced in 
political campaigning once said to me, " Never 
contrive an opportunity." 

Nothing is more fruitful of that frequent 
charge of bad faith among nations than the 
attempt to substitute the artificial for the 
natural. When subsequent experience shows 

International Relations 2 1 5 

that interest has been elaborately sacrificed 
because imperfectly comprehended or wholly 
misunderstood, popular revulsion ultimately 
exerts over rulers an influence that is compul- 
sive in proportion to the urgency of the situa- 
tion. It does not follow from this that a 
nation, as such, has premeditated bad faith, or 
wilfully accepts it. Nations are not cynical, 
though individual statesmen have been. There 
need be no attempt to justify breach of en- 
gagement ; but it is a very partial view of facts 
not to recognize that the greater fault lies with 
those who made a situation which could not 
be perpetuated, because contrary to the nature 
of things. Such action should be accepted as 
a warning that international arrangements can 
be regarded as sound only when they conform 
to substantial conditions, relatively at least 
permanent. If this caution be observed, na- 
tional policy may through long periods be as 
enduring as national characteristics admit- 
tedly are. National . character abides, though 
nations under impulse are often inconstant. 
So may national policy, though on occasion 
fluctuating, or even vacillating, be really con- 
stant; but to be so it must conform to the 

216 The Persian Gulf and 

nature of things, consulting — not resisting- — 
their course. 

If this be so as regards general policy, it fol- 
lows that successive questions, as they arise, 
should be viewed in their relation to that gen- 
eral policy, which it must be assumed is con- 
sciously realized in its broad outlines by the 
governments of the day. Of such questions 
the prospective status of Persia and the Per- 
sian Gulf now forms one, in the consideration 
of two or three of the great world powers. In 
their regard to it, and to the various interests 
or enterprises centring around it, how far are 
they guided by the natural tendency of things ? 
How far are they seeking to interject artificial 
arrangements, forced ambitions ? What is to 
be said, from this point of view, of the pro- 
posed activities, the various theories of action, 
suggested political compromises, that here find 
their origin ? As the phrase " world politics " 
more and more expresses a reality of these lat- 
ter days, the more necessary does it become to 
consider each of the several centres of interest 
as not separate, but having relations to the 
whole ; as contributory to a general balance 
of constitution, to the health of which it is 

International Relations 2 1 7 

essential to work according to nature, not 
contrary to it. 

In the general economy of the world, irre- 
spective of political tenures, present or pos- 
sible, the Persian Gulf is one terminus of a 
prospective interoceanic railroad. The track 
of this, as determined by typographical con- 
siderations, will take in great part a course 
over which, at one period and another of his- 
tory, commerce between the East and West has 
travelled. Though itself artificial, it will follow 
a road so far conforming to the nature of things 
that it has earned in the past the name of the 
Highway of Nations. The railroad will be one 
link, as the Persian Gulf is another, in a chain 
of communication between East and West, 
alternative to the all-water route by the Suez 
Canal and the Red Sea. This new line will 
have over the one now existing the advantage, 
which rail travel always has over that by water, 
of greater specific rapidity. It will therefore 
serve particularly for the transport of passen- 
gers, mails, and lighter freights. On the other 
hand, for bulk of transport, meaning thereby 
not merely articles singly of great weight or 
size, but the aggregate amounts of freight that 

2 1 8 The Persian Gulf and 

can be carried in a given time, water will al- 
ways possess an immense and irreversible ad- 
vantage over land transport for equal distances. 
This follows directly from the fact that a rail- 
road is essentially narrow. Even with four 
tracks, it admits of but two trains proceeding 
abreast in the same direction ; whereas natural 
water ways as a rule permit ships, individually 
of greater capacity than any single train, to go 
forward in numbers practically unlimited. A 
water route is, as it were, a road with number- 
less tracks. For these reasons, and on account 
of the first cost of construction, water trans- 
port has a lasting comparative cheapness, 
which so far as can be foreseen will secure to 
it forever a commercial superiority over that 
by land. It is also, for large quantities, much 
more rapid ; for, though a train can carry its 
proper load faster than a vessel can, the closely 
restricted number of trains that can proceed 
at once, as compared to the numerous vessels, 
enables the latter in a given time, practically 
simultaneously, to deliver a bulk of material 
utterly beyond the power of the road. 

Commercially, therefore, the railroad system, 
or systems, and their branches, which shall find 

International Relations 2 1 9 

their terminus at the Persian Gulf, begin at a 
great disadvantage towards the Suez route, con- 
sidered as a line of commercial communication 
between two seas, or between the two conti- 
nents, Asia and Europe. This, the broad 
general result, is, however, only one aspect of 
the relations to world politics. A railroad, as 
all know, develops the country through which 
it passes. This means that it there increases 
existing interests, and creates new ones. Of 
these it, and through it its owners, become the 
fostering and controlling centre. Because of 
this effect, railroads possess a marked local 
commercial influence; and commercial influ- 
ence, especially in these days, and in regions 
where government is weak or remiss, readily 
becomes political. It is in measure compelled 
to political action, to protect its varied interests. 
Furthermore, railroads serve to expedite not 
only the movement of commerce but the move- 
ment of troops. They have therefore military 
significance, as well as commercial and politi- 
cal. This is a commonplace, upon which it is 
needless to insist beyond recalling that it in- 
heres in all railroads as such, and therefore in 
the one under consideration. Finally, while 

2 20 The Persian Gulf and 

all parts of a commercial route, by land or by 
sea, have a certain value, supreme importance 
is accumulated at the termini, the points of 
arrival or of departure. The operations of 
commerce, — receipt, distribution, or transship- 
ment, — are there multiplied many fold. This 
concentration makes them singularly the ob- 
jects of forcible interference, and consequently 
attributes to them an importance which is 
military or naval, according to the locality. 
This at present is the particular bearing of 
the Persian Gulf upon world politics. It is 
closely analogous to that of Port Arthur, which 
has preceded it so shortly as not yet to be 
fairly out of sight, as a matter of international 
heartburnings. Upon the control of it will 
rest the functioning of the prospective rail- 
road itself regarded either as a through line 
of communication, or as a maintainer of local 
industries by the access it affords them to 
wider markets. Not only the prosperity of 
the railroad itself is at stake. The commer- 
cial interests that depend upon it, those of the 
country through which it runs and to which it 
immediately ministers, and those of many other 
regions, as producers or consumers, are in- 

International Relations 221 

volved in the political and military status of 
the Persian Gulf. 

Whose affair then is this, intrinsically so im- 
portant? Not that of all the world, for though 
all the world may be interested, more or less, 
directly or indirectly, it by no means follows 
that it is everybody's particular responsibility. 
By established rule and justice, the determina- 
tion belongs primarily to those immediately on 
the spot, in actual possession. Unhappily, the 
powers that border the Persian Gulf, Persia 
itself, Turkey, and some minor Arabian com- 
munities, are unable to give either the commer- 
cial or the military security that the situation 
will require. Under their tutelage alone, with- 
out stronger foundations underlying, stability 
cannot be maintained, either by equilibrium or 
by predominance. In such circumstances, and 
when occasion arises, the responsibility natu- 
rally devolves, as for other derelicts of fortune, 
upon the next of kin, the nearest in place or 
interest. If they, too, fail, then the more re- 
motely concerned derive both claim and duty. 
The general welfare of the world, as that of 
particular communities, will be most surely 
advanced by each one doing that which he 

222 The Persian Gulf and 

finds to his hand to do, whether by direct 
charge received from due authority, or by in- 
heritance, or from the mere fact of neighbor- 
hood, which has given to the word " neighbor " 
that consecrated association, with the sound of 
which we are all familiar, though we too nar- 
rowly conceive the range of its privilege and 
its duty. 

From the fact of propinquity, of geographi- 
cal nearness, or of direct political interest, it is 
easy to see that Great Britain and Russia are 
the two States which from existing circum- 
stances are most immediately and deeply con- 
cerned ; nor, when the several circumstances 
are closely analyzed and duly weighed, does 
there to my mind seem room to doubt that to 
the former falls first to say whether she will 
discharge the duty, or let it go to another. 
Let there be here interposed, however, the 
word of caution, before quoted, concerning the 
natural course of things, lest I should seem 
fairly chargeable with the disposition, unwise 
as well as unjust, to favor needless or prema- 
ture intervention. It may well to-day be a 
duty not to do that which to-morrow will find 
incumbent. Opportunity is not to be created, 

International Relations 223 

but to be awaited till it appear in the form of 
necessity, or at the least of clear and justifiable 
expediency. Consulting the natural order of 
things, forcing nothing, means at least invin- 
cible patience as well as sleepless vigilance; 
and vigilance includes necessarily readiness, 
for he only is truly awake who is careful to 

I have said that an analysis of the circum- 
stances shows that Great Britain, in the evi- 
dent failure of Turkey and Persia, is the 
nation first — that is, most — concerned. She 
is so not only in her own right and that of her 
own people, but in the yet more binding one 
of imperial obligation to a great and politically 
helpless ward of the Empire ; to India and its 
teeming population. In her own right and 
duty she is, as regards the establishment and 
maintenance of order, in actual possession, hav- 
ing discharged this office to the Gulf for several 
generations. Doubtless, here as in Egypt, now 
that the constructive work has been done, she 
might find others who would willingly relieve 
her of the burden of maintenance; but as re- 
gards such transfer, the decision of acceptance 
would rest, by general custom, with the present 

224 The Persian Gulf and 

possessor. To her the question is one not 
merely of convenience, but of duty, arising 
from and closely involved with existing con- 
ditions, which are the more imperative because 
they are plants of mature growth, with roots 
deep struck and closely intertwined in the soil 
of a past history. 

These conditions are doubtless manifold, but 
in last analysis they are substantially three. 
First, her security in India, which would be 
materially affected by an adverse change in 
political control of the Gulf; secondly, the 
safety of the great sea route, commercial and 
military, to India and the farther East, on which 
British shipping is still actually the chief trav- 
eller, though with a notable comparative dim- 
inution that demands national attention; and, 
thirdly, the economic and commercial welfare 
of India, which can act politically only through 
the Empire, a dependence which greatly en- 
hances obligation. The control of the Persian 
Gulf by a foreign State of considerable naval 
potentiality, a "fleet in being ,, there, based upon 
a strong military port, would reproduce the re- 
lations of Cadiz, Gibraltar, and Malta to the 
Mediterranean. It would flank all the routes 

International Relations 225 

to the farther East, to India, and to Australia, 
the last two actually internal to the Empire, 
regarded as a political system; and although 
at present Great Britain unquestionably could 
check such a fleet, so placed, by a division of 
her own, it might well require a detachment 
large enough to affect seriously the general 
strength of her naval position. On the other 
hand, India, considered in regard to her par- 
ticular necessities, apart from the general in- 
terests of the Empire, may justly demand that 
there be secured to her untrammelled inter- 
course with Mesopotamia and Persia. She 
has a fair claim also to any incidental ad- 
vantage attendant upon the through land 
communication that can be assured by polit- 
ical foresight, obtaining a position favorable 
to the negotiations of the future. It is noto- 
rious, for instance, that most nations, and 
Russia pre-eminently, adopt a highly protec- 
tive or exclusive policy towards foreign in- 
dustries. Applied to what is now Persia, this 
would be a direct injury to India, which, even 
under the present backward conditions of the 
inhabitants and of communications, carries on 
a large part of the Persian trade, as might 


226 The Persian Gulf and 

naturally be expected from the nearness of the 
two countries. The same is doubtless true of 
her relations with Mesopotamia, though the 
absence of reliable customs returns prevents 
positive statements. For securing these nat- 
ural rights of India, British naval predomi- 
nance in the Gulf, unfettered by bases there 
belonging to possibly hostile foreign powers, 
would be a political factor of considerable in- 
fluence ; but it is incompatible with the estab- 
lishment of foreign arsenals. 

Further, purely naval control is for this 
purpose a very imperfect instrument, unless 
supported and reinforced by the shores on 
which it acts. It is necessary therefore to 
attach the inhabitants to the same interests 
by the extension and consolidation of com- 
mercial relations, the promotion of which con- 
sequently should be the aim of the government 
The acquisition of territory is one thing, which 
may properly be rejected as probably inexpe- 
dient; and certainly unjust when not impera- 
tive. It is quite another matter to secure 
popular confidence and support by mutual use- 
fulness. Whatever the merits of free trade as 
a system, suited to these or those national 

International Relations 227 

circumstances, it probably carries with it a 
defect of its qualities in inducing too great 
apathy towards the exertion of governmental 
action in trade matters. Non-interference, 
laissez-faire, may easily degenerate from a con- 
servative principle to an indolent attitude of 
mind, and then it is politically vicious. The 
universal existence and the nature of a consular 
service testify to the close relationship between 
trade and government, a relationship that is 
in some measure at least one of mutual de- 
pendence. A certain forecast of the future, 
a preparation of the way by smoothing of ob- 
stacles, a discernment of opportunity, — which 
is quite different from creating it, — a recog- 
nition of the natural course of things at the 
instant when it may be taken at the flood, 
these are natural functions of a competent 
consular body. To it belongs also the estab- 
lishment of international relations through the 
medium of personal intercourse, so strongly 
operative in public matters even in states of 
European civilization, among statesmen whose 
business is to look below the surface, and 
beyond the individual, to the substantial and 
permanent issues at stake. Much more is it 

228 The Persian Gulf and 

influential among peoples where statesmanship 
is chiefly a matter of personal interest or bias, 
consequently short sighted and unstable, and 
where local confidence and prestige are domi- 
nant factors in sustaining policy. There the 
flag, if illustrated in a well-organized consular 
service, may well be the forerunner of trade 
as well as its necessary complement. 

At the present time the trade of Persia is 
divided chiefly between Great Britain and India 
on the one hand, and Russia on the other. 
As would be expected from their relative posi- 
tions, the northern part falls to Russia, the 
southern to her principal rival in Asia. The 
one therefore is essentially a land trade, the 
other maritime. From these respective char- 
acteristics, the one naturally induces govern- 
mental intervention, to promote the facility of 
communications, to which the land by its varied 
and refractory surface presents continual ob- 
stacles. The other finds its royal highway of 
the sea ever clear and open, a condition which 
ministers to the natural conservatism and ac- 
quired principle of non-interference which dis- 
tinguish Great Britain. By the disposition 
of all living things to grow, the spheres of the 

International Relations 229 

two tend continually to approach. The mo- 
ment of contact may well be indefinitely dis- 
tant, but the circumstances which shall attend 
its arrival are already forming; and when it 
comes it may be, as now in China, the signal of 
an antagonism, the result of which will depend 
upon the facts of political position on the one 
side or the other. Russia not unnaturally 
looks to her continuous territory and popula- 
tion, behind the scene of possible contest, as 
the assurance of her own permanent predom- 
inance and eventual exclusive influence. It 
may be so ; but not necessarily until a future 
so far distant as to be utterly beyond the range 
of our possible vision, and between which and 
us lie many chapters of unknowable changes. 
If confronted by a solid political organism, 
resting immediately upon commercial interests, 
and ultimately upon naval control of the Gulf 
and the armed forces of Great Britain, backed 
by her colonies and India, it must be long 
before the northern impulse can overcome the 
resistance. The physical difficulties of the 
land route contrasted with the level path of 
the sea, the narrowness of rail carriage as com- 
pared with the broad highway of the ocean, 

230 The Persian Gulf and 

more than compensate for the apparent shorter 
distance and delusive continuity of the land. 
The energies of Russia also must long be 
absorbed by other necessary pre-occupations, 
notably the far superior importance of de- 
veloped and consolidated access, by Siberia 
and Manchuria, to North China seas and the 
Pacific, the great immediate centres of world 
interest. There is therefore no need to hasten 
things in their natural course, but equally there 
is no justification for neglecting to note and 
improve them ; to quote Washington again, 
" diffusing and diversifying by gentle means 
the streams of commerce," which will gradually 
nurse the future into vigorous life. 

Both Persia and China are being swept irre- 
sistibly into the general movement of the world, 
from which they have so long stood apart. 
Both have a momentous future of uncertain 
issue, but that of China is evidently more 
immediately imminent. This is the natural 
course which things are at present following. 
Persia has still a time of waiting. The indi- 
cations also are that Russia, consciously or 
intuitively, thus reads the conditions. By far- 
sighted sagacity, or through continued yield- 

International Relations 231 

ings to the successive leadings of the moment, 
she has now extended her great effort towards 
sustained communication with ever-open water 
to the farther East. The Siberian railroad, by 
which she hopes to assure it, passes through 
territory that is wholly her own by ancient 
tenure ; while through recent generations 
she has prepared its security by her steady 
progress southward in Central Asia and Tur- 
kestan. The establishment of orderly gov- 
ernment in those regions relieves the flank 
of the route from predatory dangers, which 
under the feeble adminstration of Turkey will 
constitute one of the elements of difficulty for 
the projected railroad in the Euphrates valley. 
The Siberian road throughout its whole course 
is unassailable by any external power, until 
within a very short distance of the coast ter- 
minus. Its military safety being thus absolute, 
its maintenance, and the development of its 
carrying power, essential to the Russian posi- 
tion in the farther East, are questions simply 
of money. Money, however, will be needed in 
such quantities that the imperative require- 
ments must postpone further effective move- 
ment to the southward or westward ; for effec- 

232 The Persian Gulf and 

tive movement means developed communica- 
tions, consolidated and sustained. These are 
expensive, and in sound policy should not be 
attempted on a grand scale in two directions 
at the same time ; unless indeed the resources 
in money and labor are so great as to justify 
their dissemination. That this is not the case 
the notorious condition of the Siberian road 
gives reason to believe. 

Water communication with the external 
world, through an unimpeded seaboard of her 
own, is Russia's greatest present want. For 
this object, to what extent would she benefit 
commercially by access to the Persian Gulf, 
as compared with the China seas? Putting 
out of consideration China itself, with the 
nearer shores of the Pacific, as to which the 
better situation of Manchuria cannot be ques- 
tioned, Russia is there much closer also to the 
Americas and to the entire Pacific. Australia 
is substantially equidistant from the Persian 
Gulf and from Port Arthur; the balance 
favoring the latter. Only Southern Asia and 
Africa can be said to be nearer to the Gulf. 
Europe and Atlantic America are now reached, 
and ever must be reached, commercially, by 

International Relations 233 

Russia, from the Black Sea or the Baltic. 
From the standpoint of military advantage, a 
Russian naval division in the Persian Gulf, 
although unquestionably a menace to the trade 
route from Suez to the East, would be most 
ex-centrically placed as regards all Russia's 
greatest interests. It is for these reasons that 
I have elsewhere said that the good of Russia 
presents no motive for Great Britain to con- 
cede a position so extremely injurious to her- 
self and her dependencies. 

The question of the Persian Gulf, and of 
South Persia in connection with it, though not 
yet immediately urgent, is clearly visible upon 
the horizon of the distant future. It becomes, 
therefore, and in so far, a matter for present 
reflection, the guiding principle of which should 
be its relation to India, and to the farther East. 
This again is governed by the strategic con- 
sideration already presented in the remark that 
movement, advance, to be effective and sus- 
tained, requires communications to be coherent 
and consolidated. The Russian communica- 
tion by land, though still inadequately devel- 
oped, is thus secure, militarily. Throughout 
its length there exists no near-by point held 

234 The Persian Gulf and 

by an enemy able to interrupt it by a serious 
blow. The significance of such a condition 
will be realized forcibly by contrasting it with 
the military exposure of another great trans- 
continental line, the Canadian Pacific. In the 
farther East Great Britain, like Russia, holds 
an advanced position, chiefly commercial, but 
consequently military also, the communications 
of which are by water. These have not, and 
probably never can have, any military security 
comparable to that of the Siberian railway. 
Their safety must depend upon sustained ex- 
ertion of mobile force, resting upon secure 
bases, ready for instant and constant action. 
It is needless to insist upon the difficulty of 
such a situation ; it has been made the subject 
of recent and abundant comment. But if thus 
onerous now, all the more reason that the 
burden should not be increased by the gratu- 
itous step of consenting, upon any terms of 
treaty, any forced infringement of the natural 
condition of things, to the establishment of 
a new source of danger analogous to those 
already existing in Cadiz, Toulon, the Darda- 
nelles, and so on. Concession in the Persian 
Gulf, whether by positive formal arrangement, 

International Relations 235 

or by simple neglect of the local commercial 
interests which now underlie political and mili- 
tary control, will imperil Great Britain's naval 
situation in the farther East, her political posi- 
tion in India, her commercial interests in both, 
and the imperial tie between herself and 

So far from yielding here, it appears to me 
that the signs of the times, as outlined above, 
point seriously to the advisability of concentrat- 
ing attention, preparation of the understanding 
at least, upon that portion of the Suez route 
to the farther East which lies between Aden 
and Singapore. In this the Persian Gulf is a 
very prominent consideration. It is not neces- 
sary that material preparation should far fore- 
stall imminent necessity ; but the preparation of 
thought which we call recognition, and appre- 
ciation, costs the Treasury nothing, and saves 
it much by the quiet anticipation of contin- 
gencies, and provision against them. It tends 
to prevent inopportune concessions, and the 
negligences which arise from ignorance of 
facts, or failure to comprehend their relations 
to one another. The South African War and 
the twenty preceding years give recent warn- 

236 The Persian Gulf and 

ing. Foreign affairs, as well as military, need 
their general staff. Besides its bearing upon 
the Suez route, the Gulf has a very special 
relation to the Euphrates valley, and any road 
passing through it from the Levant ; and this 
relation is shared by South Persia, because of 
the political effect of its tenure upon the con- 
trol of the Gulf. There is here concentrated 
therefore commercial and political influence 
upon both of the two routes, that by land and 
that by water, from the Mediterranean to India 
and to the East beyond. There is no occasion 
in the nature of things that Great Britain, either 
by concession or compulsion, should share with 
another State the control which she now has 
here ; but in order to retain it she needs not 
only to keep the particular protective relations 
already established with minor local rulers, but 
further to develop and fortify her commercial 
interests and political prestige in South Persia 
and adjacent Mesopotamia. This means not 
only, nor chiefly, increase of exchange of pro- 
ducts. It means also partnership, public or 
private, in the system of communications, anal- 
ogous in idea, and if need be even in extent, 
to Disraeli's purchase of the Suez canal shares. 

International Relations 237 

The attitude of the United States Government 
towards the projected Panama Canal affords a 
further suggestive illustration. As towards 
the farther East, South Persia is in fact the 
logical next step beyond Egypt; though it 
does not follow that the connection therewith 
is to be the same. Correlative to this com- 
mercial and political progress, goes the neces- 
sity of local provision for naval activity when 
required. The middle East, if I may adopt 
a term which I have not seen, will some day 
need its Malta, as well as its Gibraltar; it 
does not follow that either will be in the Gulf. 
Naval force has the quality of mobility which 
carries with it the privilege of temporary ab- 
sences; but it needs to find on every scene of 
operation established bases of refit, of supply, 
and, in case of disaster, of security. The 
British Navy should have the facility to con- 
centrate in force, if occasion arise, about Aden, 
India, and the Gulf. 

In summary : Relatively to Europe the far- 
ther East is an advanced post of international 
activities, of very great and immediate impor- 
tance ; but from the military point of view, to 
which as yet commercial security has to be re- 

238 The Persian Gulf and 

ferred, the question of communications, of the 
routes of travel, underlies all others and must 
be kept carefully and predominantly in mind. 
Russia has her own road, by land, unshared 
with any other. To the rest of Europe, and 
to Russia when she chooses, there exists now 
the sea route by Suez, which is, and probably 
must remain, supreme to all others. Alterna- 
tive to it, in part of the way, the future will 
doubtless bring railways. These, however, on 
account of the greater cheapness of water car- 
riage, will pretty surely do their principal 
through business in expediting special transit 
between the two seas — the Mediterranean and 
the Indian Ocean. They will in this respect 
maintain merely an express and fast freight 
traffic. Between them and the Suez route 
there will be the perennial conflict between 
land and water transport, between natural and 
artificial conditions, in which the victory is 
likely to rest, as heretofore, with nature's own 
highway, the sea. But, however that prove, the 
beginning and the end, the termini, of both 
routes, land and sea, so far as they compete, 
will be substantially the same : the Levant Sea, 
the Straits of Bab-el- Mandeb and the Persian 

International Relations 239 

Gulf. It is too much to ask of international 
compliancy that Europe should accept the 
single control of both terminal regions by the 
same State, especially where no defined claim 
now exists, as is the case in Levantine Turkey ; 
but equally, where a single government can 
show a long prescription of useful action, of 
predominant influence, and of political primacy 
locally recognized in important quarters, as 
Great Britain can, there is no reason why she 
should be expected to abandon these advan- 
tages, except as the result of war, if a rival 
think that result will repay the cost. 

There is not to be seen in the nature of 
things any evidence, or any tendency, which 
indicates the probability that Great Britain 
may be forced to yield to compulsion, actual 
or threatened, concessions of present right 
which it is inexpedient that she should grant 
voluntarily. It is upon such probability, con- 
ceived to be imminent, that are based pro- 
posals of arrangement, or compromise, that I 
cannot but think excessively artificial, and 
disregardful of permanent conditions. They 
surmise, as a necessary postulate, hostile com- 
binations of two or more States, against which, 

240 The Persian Gulf and 

by a curious intellectual prepossession, no prob- 
able counterpoise is discernible. As a matter 
of fact, founded upon present territorial posi- 
tions, there is in the nature of things no real, 
no enduring, antagonism concerning the Per- 
sian Gulf, except between Great Britain and 
Russia. It is not to the interest of any third 
State to interfere between these two, or to dis- 
turb — much less to destroy — the local bal- 
ance of power which now exists between them 
and can probably be maintained. As regards 
its particular interests, the hands of any third 
State will be not more, but less, free, should 
that balance yield to the decisive predominance 
of one of the two throughout the regions in- 
volved. Nor can a third State expect to re- 
store equilibrium, if lost, by itself taking the 
place of the one that has gone under. It is 
only necessary to consider the solidity, extent, 
and long standing, of the local control now 
wielded by Russia and Great Britain, together 
with the land power of the one and the sea 
power of the other, to see the hopelessness of 
any substitute for either in its own sphere. 
The two systems are not dead, but living ; not 
machines, but organisms; not merely founded, 

International Relations 24 1 

but rooted, in past history and present condi- 
tions. What the rest of the world needs, what 
world politics requires, is that here, as in Asia 
immediately to the eastward, there should be 
political and military equipoise, not predomi- 
nance. The interests of other States are eco- 
nomical ; freedom of transit and of traffic, the 
open door. The very problem now troubling 
nations in the Levant and China is how to 
establish, — and only afterwards to maintain, 
— conditions which are already established 
and have now only to be maintained about 
the land approaches to the Persian Gulf. 

There is therefore, no sound inducement for 
another State to waste strength here. It can 
be used better elsewhere. When substantial 
equilibrium thus exists, a slight effort will 
suffice to obtain from either party a considera- 
tion which in the case of distinct predomi- 
nance, or exclusive tenure, might require a 
full display of national power. Doubtless, 
many in Great Britain, and also in America, 
are convinced that one third State, the German 
Empire, is restlessly intent, not only upon 
economical and maritime development, which 

is not to be contested by other than econom- 


242 The Persian Gulf and 

ical weapons, but also upon self-assertive ag- 
gression with a view to territorial aggrandize- 
ment in more than one part of the world; and 
notably in this particular quarter. A conces- 
sion has been granted to German capitalists to 
extend the railway, which now ends at Konieh, 
to Bagdad, passing through the Euphrates val- 
ley. The necessary outlet to this is the Persian 
Gulf. Such concession, when realized in con- 
struction, carries with it a national investment, 
an economical interest, which, though in private 
ownership, inevitably entails political interest. 
It justifies public backing by its own govern- 
ment, in countries where, as in Turkey, private 
right is secure only when it has national force 
behind it. It is for this very reason that Great 
Britain, having already political interest in the 
Persian Gulf, should encourage British capital 
to develop communications thence with the in- 
terior in Persia and in Mesopotamia, as strength- 
ening her political claim to consideration, and 
excluding that of possible antagonists. The 
German road would thus find its terminus in 
a British system; a not unusual international 
relation. German enterprise has in anticipation 
established German political hold upon Asia 

International Relations 243 

Minor and Mesopotamia. As expectation 
passes into realization Germany will acquire 
local political importance and influence ; a 
right, sanctioned by the rules of intercourse 
with Oriental nations, to have her voice heard 
in many local matters, as affecting the interests 
of her subjects who are thus engaged in devel- 
oping the country. 

What effect will this have upon Germany's 
political and military position, relatively to 
Russia and Great Britain, which, from near- 
ness or from the commercial ubiquity of their 
citizens, are also politically interested ? Under 
present conditions Germany, whose nearest port 
is in the North Sea, has assumed a political 
burden at a point from which she is far more 
remote than Russia, and her sea approach to 
which is before the face of the much greater 
navy of Great Britain. There is in this nothing 
to prevent the just assertion of her right, no 
necessary cause of quarrel, — far from it ; but 
also there is nothing menacing. Germany has 
simply introduced another factor into a problem 
as yet unsolved, that of the ultimate political 
status of several provinces of the Turkish Em- 
pire, — Asia Minor, Syria, and Mesopotamia. 

244 The Persian Gulf and 

As I have elsewhere said, I believe that her 
appearance there is a step towards a right 
final solution; that from the necessary com- 
mon interest of Germany and Great Britain 
in the Suez route to the farther East, be- 
cause the commerce of both depends upon 
its security, the two cannot but work together 
to secure here a political development which 
will consolidate their respective naval posi- 
tions in the Levant. 

This seems to me an absolute permanent 
condition, consistent with a certain amount of 
mutual jealousy and political wrangling, and 
with unlimited commercial rivalry, but never- 
theless determinative of substantial co-opera- 
tion. The mass of Russia is so vast, her 
ambitions so pronounced, and she is so near 
at hand, that the Suez route needs precisely 
that kind of protection against her which 
Russia herself has given to the Siberian road 
by the regularization of the provinces south of 
it. Whatever the particular form local admin- 
istration may ultimately assume, it is impera- 
tive upon the Teutonic States to see that their 
water route to the East is not imperilled by 
naval stations flanking it, whether in the Le- 

International Relations 245 

vant or in the Persian Gulf. Bein^ them- 
selves far distant, dependent upon naval power 
simply, it is essential that they constitute a polit- 
ical pre-occupation favorable to themselves in 
the Asian provinces of Turkey and in Southern 
Persia. In Egypt and in Aden Great Britain 
has already done much. Germany, in building 
a Mesopotamian railway, the continuation of 
that already working in Asia Minor, contrib- 
utes to the same end. That Russia looks upon 
the enterprise with disfavor is a testimony, 
conscious or unconscious, to its tendency. 

These also seem to me permanent consid- 
erations. Not less so, having reference to the 
anxiety felt by some in Great Britain as to 
the intentions of Germany, is the general situ- 
ation of the latter in European politics. There 
is certainly an impression in America, which 
I share, that Great Britain for various reasons 
has been tending to lose ground in economical 
and commercial matters. Whether this be a 
passing phase, or a symptom of more serious 
trouble, time must show. Should it prove per- 
manent, and Germany at the same time gain 
upon her continuously, as for some years past 
she has been doing, the relative positions of 

246 The Persian Gulf 'and 

the two as sea powers may be seriously modi- 
fied. The danger appears to exist ; and if so 
the watchmen of the British press should cry 
aloud and spare not until all classes of their 
community realize it in its fundamental signifi- 
cance. Military precautions, and the condi- 
tions upon which they rest, have been the main 
motive of this paper; but these, while they 
have their own great and peremptory impor- 
tance, cannot in our day, from the point of 
view of instructed statesmanship, office-holding 
or other, be considered as primary. War has 
ceased to be the natural, or even normal, con- 
dition of nations, and military considerations 
are simply accessory and subordinate to the 
other greater interests, economical and com- 
mercial, which they assure and so subserve. 
In this article itself, turning as it does on mili- 
tary discussion, the starting point and founda- 
tion is the necessity to secure commerce, by 
political measures conducive to military, or 
naval, strength. This order is that of actual 
relative importance to the nation of the three 
elements — commercial, political, military. 

It is evident, however, that these primary 
matters, although they underlie this argument, 

International Relations 247 

are otherwise outside it. For the rest, as 
regards the general military strength, and in 
particular the sea power, of the two countries, 
nothing can overthrow the one permanent 
advantage that Great Britain enjoys in being 
insular. Germany, should she realize her ut- 
most ambitions, even expanding to the Med- 
iterranean, must remain a continental State, 
in immediate contact with powerful rivals. 
Historically, no nation hitherto has been able 
under such conditions to establish a supreme 
sea power. Of this France is the historical 
example. On the other hand, regarded in her- 
self alone, apart from rivals, Germany cannot, 
as the United States could not, exert the in- 
tense internal effort now required for political 
consolidation and economical development co- 
incidently with an equal expansive effort. The 
one may succeed the other, as in our case and 
in that of Great Britain, where the expansion 
of the eighteenth century followed and de- 
pended on the unifying action of the seven- 
teenth; but, until internal coherence is secured, 
external expansion cannot adequately progress. 
One weakens the other. Though correlative, 
they are not co-operative. 

248 The Persia7i Gulf and 

The ambition of Germany so to develop her 
fleet as to secure commercial transit of the 
North Sea, which washes her entire maritime 
frontier, is a national aspiration in itself de- 
serving of entire sympathy. Towards all other 
States except Great Britain it is within the 
compass of reasonable expectation. As towards 
Great Britain it is, under present economical 
conditions, impossible ; for Great Britain, being 
insular, must maintain continuously supreme 
the navy upon which her all depends, and 
moreover, as I pointed out in a recent paper, 
by geographical position she lies across and 
flanks every sea route by which Germany 
reaches the outer world. This condition is 
permanent, removable only by the friendship 
or destruction of the British power. Of the 
two the friendship will be the cheaper and more 
efficacious; for it is needed not in home waters 
only but in those distant regions which we have 
been considering. The naval power of Great 
Britain is just as real a factor in the future of 
Germany in the distant East as every thinking 
American must recognize it to be in our own 
external policy. That such a force should be 
paid for, and must necessarily be maintained, 

International Relations 249 

by another people, whose every interest will 
prompt them to use it in the general lines of 
our own advantage, is a political consideration 
as valuable as it is essentially permanent. In 
the matter of exertion of force it accords abso- 
lutely with the nature of things. As for eco- 
nomical rivalry, let it be confined to its own 
methods, eschewing force. 

In saying these things I may seem to ignore 
the bitter temper, openly and even outra- 
geously shown by the German people towards 
Great Britain in these last three years. I do 
not forget it. Human nature being what it 
is, the dangerous effect of such conditions 
upon international relations is undeniable. It 
is ever present to my reflections upon the 
political future. The exhibition is utterly de- 
plorable, for it can serve no good end, and if 
it continue will prevent a co-operation among 
the three Teutonic States which all need, but 
Germany most of all; for the respective ex- 
ternal interests of the United States and Great 
Britain — together with Japan — have so much 
in common, and so little that is antagonistic, 
that substantial, though informal, co-operation 
is inevitable. 

250 The Persian Gulf and 

This hostility constitutes an element in the 
political situation which should be taken into 
account, and carefully watched. Nevertheless, 
the permanent conditions, above summarized, 
will through a future beyond our possible pres- 
ent foresight retain Germany in a position of 
naval numerical inferiority to Great Britain, 
as regards both mobile force and the essential 
naval stations which the latter has acquired 
during two centuries of maritime activity. 
These conditions, by their inevitable logic, 
ought ultimately to overcome a sentiment which 
has no good ground for existence, and which 
betrays the national interest. Should it, how- 
ever, endure, the permanent facts are too strong 
for it to do more than dash harmlessly against 
them. Awaiting either event, may not the 
people of Great Britain on their part, without 
relaxing vigilance or ignoring truths, accept 
Washington's warning, which we Americans 
at least have by no means outgrown, against 
a permanent inveterate antipathies against par- 
ticular nations. 5> They have cause for anger; 
but anger disturbs the judgment, and I think 
in some measure is doing so in this instance. 
This particular antipathy is yet young, let it 

International Relations 251 

not harden into maturity. In the great politi- 
cal questions which for some time to come will 
concentrate the external regard of nations and 
statesmen, the natural desires of Russia, rea- 
sonable and unreasonable, are contrary to those 
of Germany as well as of Great Britain. It is 
to her clear interest that they remain alienated. 
Such conditions should on the one hand prompt 
an earnest effort for a balanced and concilia- 
tory adjustment on all sides; but on the other, 
their essential permanence, if it be as I think, 
demands a recognition which would show itself 
in the extrusion of everything resembling pas- 
sion, and in the settlement of national purpose 
on the firm ground of essential facts, instead 
of the uncertain foundation of any artificial 
agreement which contravenes them. 



January, 1902. 

THE military duty of obedience may be re- 
garded either as a rule or a principle, for 
it is both. The rule derives from the principle. 
It is the principle defined in precise and man- 
datory terms, as a law is the expression of the 
general will of the community, formulated by 
the Legislature for the governance and control 
of individuals. The difficulty of such formula- 
tion, however, as that of definition generally, is 
well known, and has found proverbial recogni- 
tion in phrases indicating that statutes, even 
w T hen framed with great care by experienced 
hands, are very liable to offer loop-holes through 
which the observance of them may be escaped. 
It is no less difficult to define the military rule of 
obedience, without on the one hand constitut- 
ing fetters, which would neutralize intelligence 
and palsy individuality in a sphere and at in- 

256 The Military Rule of Obedience 

stants where both are pre-eminently needed, or, 
on the other hand, permitting a license which 
in practice would degenerate into anarchy. It 
is not a sufficient solution to so knotty and 
dangerous a question to damn obedience to 
orders, as a rugged veteran will occasionally be 
heard to suggest ; while, on the other extreme, 
the saying of that eminent disciplinarian, Lord 
St. Vincent, " The whole of discipline is con- 
tained in the word 'obedience,'" though safer in 
practice, is perhaps too absolute in its assertion. 
The matter at stake is too intricate for such 
Gordian solutions. It is also too important at 
once to the individual officer and to the nation, 
the conduct of whose armed forces may at crit- 
ical moments depend upon a correct under- 
standing. In many instances, perhaps in the 
large majority, the propriety of literal obedience 
is plainly evident; in a few the inexpediency, 
folly, or impossibility of such compliance is for 
obvious reasons equally clear ; but there never- 
theless remain a number of cases, not merely 
possible, but copiously exemplified by history, 
which present seripus difficulty. In these an 
officer finds himself confronted with condi- 
tions that make a large demand upon his moral 

The Military Rule of Obedience 257 

courage as well as upon his judgment. His 
judgment then can be safely guided, and his 
resolution supported, only by a mastery of prin- 
ciples. No mere rule will here suffice. Mili- 
tary obedience when in subordinate post, and 
military initiative when in independent com- 
mand, untrammelled by orders and free to fol- 
low the guidance of one's own judgment, are 
both governed by principles, the appreciation 
of which is the only sure light to one's foot- 
steps. To them recurrence must be had in 
doubtful positions, where precise precedent and 
formal definition are wanting; in short, when 
rules, however good in general use, fail to apply. 
It does not hence follow that rules, terse and 
positive embodiments of principles, such as 
that of obedience, are mostly useless because 
essentially narrow and unelastic. That all 
rules have exceptions is proverbial ; and mili- 
tary rules are probably more liable to exceptions 
than most others, because of the emergency 
that characterizes war and the vast variety of 
situations to which a rule has to be adapted. 
No one proposes on these accounts to disre- 
gard rules utterly. It is evident, however, 
that an officer who undertakes to violate the 


258 The Military Rule of Obedience 

fundamental rule of obedience, upon the strict 
observance of which depends in general the 
success of combined operations, and who sub- 
stitutes his own initiative for the directions of 
his superior, assumes a risk which urgently 
imposes a comprehension of the principles, 
upon which respectively rest both the rule of 
obedience and the rules of war. 

It may be asserted, as perhaps the most ten- 
able general definition of the principle upon 
which the rule of obedience rests, that the 
spirit of obedience, as distinguished from its 
letter, consists in faithfully forwarding the 
general object to which the officer's particular 
command is contributing. This finds expres- 
sion in the well-known directive maxim, " March 
to the sound of the guns." In doubtful cases, 
however, - — and by doubtful I mean cases where 
action other than that prescribed in the orders 
seems expedient, — liberty of judgment is con- 
ditioned by the officers acquaintance with the 
plans of his superior. If his knowledge is im- 
perfect, or altogether lacking, the doing that 
which at the moment seems wise to himself 
may be to defeat a much more important ob- 
ject, or to dissolve the bonds of a combined 

The Military Rule of Obedience 259 

movement to which his co-operation is essen- 
tial. If, under such circumstances of igno- 
rance, resting only upon his own sagacity or 
surmises, he errs either in his reading of his 
commander's general purpose, or in his de- 
cision as to his own action, and through such 
error disobeys, he cannot complain if he re- 
ceive censure or punishment. He has violated 
a recognized rule without adequate reason. 
The rectitude of his intentions may clear him 
of moral blame, though not necessarily even so; 
for the duty of obedience is not merely military, 
but moral. It is not an arbitrary rule, but one 
essential and fundamental ; the expression of a 
principle without which military organization 
would go to pieces, and military success be impos- 
sible. Consequently, even where the individual 
purpose may be demonstrably honest, not wil- 
ful, blame adheres and punishment may follow, 
according to the measure of the delinquency, 
though that be due to nothing worse than per- 
sonal incompetency. Does this seem hard 
measure ? It may be replied, in what pursuit 
is this not so? What is the profession, physi- 
cian, lawyer, or Wall Street, in which a trans- 
gression of instructions by an inferior, or a 

260 The Military Rule of Obedience 

departure from recognized methods, when not 
justified by the conditions, escapes punishment, 
either at the hand of events or of his employer? 
Is " I thought so," or " I did my best," accepted 
there as an excuse for disobedience ? 

In the question of military obedience there 
is therefore involved both a rule and a prin- 
ciple. In dealing with the matter I shall have 
to consider both, but I have advisedly chosen 
the rule for the heading of this article ; for, as 
I have said before, the rule has the force of a 
law, a law positive in existing enactment, and 
a law traditional in the settled practice of the 
military professions, as well as in numerous 
precedents established by competent author- 
ities. To go behind a law to the principle 
underlying it, to recognize a higher law than 
the law explicit, is a very delicate matter for a 
man in any position ; and it is therefore the 
rule of obedience, rather than the general prin- 
ciple upon which it rests, that most closely 
touches an officer in military responsibility. 
Under what conditions is it permissible to dis- 
regard orders, or, even more positively, to act 
contrary to them? What is the real test of 
propriety, which differentiates one act of dis- 

The Military Rule of Obedience 261 

obedience from another of the same apparent 
character ? Is one's own sense of right, one's 
own good intention, the justifying factor? 
What judge, however, in such a case is com- 
petent to penetrate through the faulty act, if 
such it be, to the hidden good purpose of the 
heart ? What claim have military men to ex- 
emption from the general rule of law, that in- 
tention, which cannot be seen, must be inferred 
from attendant circumstances, which can ? If 
conduct, upon an impartial review of the con- 
ditions at the moment of action, is shown to 
be palpably wrong, by what right can alleged 
intention, "error of judgment " as it is styled, 
be invoked to justify an offender ? Is there no 
such thing as malpractice, professionally guilty, 
though possibly morally innocent ? Is profes- 
sional incompetence, translated into action and 
injurious to others, never worse than an error 
of judgment? Mistakes, doubtless, all men are 
liable to; the fact is proverbial; but the justi- 
fication of a decision proved by the event to be 
mistaken rests not upon the intention of the per- 
son making it, but upon a judicial review of the 
circumstances surrounding the decision, which 
shall prove that, under the conditions known 

262 The Military Rule of Obedience 

at the moment, it was correct, or at least the 
most favored by probabilities. If this be 
true, as I hold it is, in the case even of a man 
in independent command, much more is the 
responsibility weighty when action, intrinsi- 
cally faulty, is taken in disobedience of orders. 
The mere enunciation of the queries in the 
last paragraph will suggest to most that we 
have here before us no simple question of yea 
and nay. In fact, no clear-cut absolute reply, 
no vade mecum for pocket use, can be furnished 
defining just when and how, in all cases, a man 
is justified in disobedience, nor even when he 
is justified by blind obedience; although the 
balance of professional judgment must always 
incline in favor of the latter alternative. 
When a doubt arises, as it frequently does, 
between strict compliance with an order and 
the disregard of it, in whole or in part, the 
officer is called upon to decide a question of pro- 
fessional conduct. Personal judgment neces- 
sarily enters as a factor, but only one of many ; 
and, to be trusted, it needs to be judgment 
illuminated by professional knowledge and for- 
tified by reflection. Short of that, it is not a 
safe counsellor, and has no claim to consider- 

The Military Rule of Obedience 263 

ation if cited before a court of final appeal. 
The officer at the moment should consider 
himself, as he in fact is, a judge deciding upon 
a case liable to be called up to a superior court, 
before which his conclusion has no claim to 
respect because it is his personal opinion, but 
only so far as it is supported by the evidence 
before him. There is, of course, the necessary 
reservation that the final judgment upon him- 
self, for his professional conduct as involved in 
his decision, will be rendered upon the facts 
accessible to him, and not upon those not then 
to be known, though afterwards apparent. 

Unless qualified by these grave consider- 
ations, the phrase "error of judgment," so 
facilely used, is misleading to popular under- 
standing. Not only so; it is pregnant of 
serious consequences to the issues of war and 
to individuals influenced by it. It is necessary 
to realize that some errors of judgment are 
inexcusable, because inconsistent with recog- 
nized standards ; and that disobedience of 
orders is on its face a fault, a disregard of a 
settled standard, of an established rule, of such 
general application that upon the person who 
commits it rests the burden of proving that 

264 The Military Rule of Obedience 

the circumstances commanded his action. The 
presumption, in the case of disobedience, is not 
innocence, but guilt. Mere rule though it be, 
in its narrow construction and rigid framework, 
the rule of implicit and entire obedience rests 
upon reasons so sound that its infringement 
in action can rarely be condoned, when not 
thoroughly approved. Nothing can be more 
disastrous than to trifle with the corner stone, 
upon which rests the structure of coherent, 
unified action. The admission into the mili- 
tary mind of anything approaching irreverence 
for the spirit of military obedience, or levity 
as regards the letter of the rule in which it 
is embodied, is the begetter of confusion, and 
that, in turn, is the forerunner of defeat. To 
sit loose to this obligation weakens the sense 
of responsibility, upon the due realization of 
which rests not merely literal obedience, but 
intelligent and deserving disobedience in the 
occasional circumstances which call for that. 
The recognition of responsibility by the indi- 
vidual, the consciousness that serious regard to 
it is governing his determinations, is the best 
moral equipment that a man can have to en- 
able him to sustain the burden of violating 

The Military Rule of Obedience 265 

instructions, deliberately undertaken upon his 
own judgment. It is the mens conscia recti 
in a serious problem of action. 

The mental equipment is another matter, 
but it, as well as the moral, are necessary to 
full professional competency for such occasions. 
Upon the hypothesis now before us, the rule, 
absolute in general, seems not to apply. To 
meet the difficulty with sound discretion, on 
which to base the defence of his action what- 
ever its issue may prove, the officer will need 
an adequate realization of all the conditions 
before him, and a power of appreciating the 
military situation as thus constituted. This 
power depends in part upon native aptitude; 
but it requires also a knowledge of the practice 
of war, a broad and ripened acquaintance with 
the principles and precedents controlling the 
conduct of military operations, which is by no 
means so widely diffused as may, perhaps, be 
thought. Without this, disobedience is a haz- 
ardous undertaking; but, when so equipped, 
an officer may with considerable confidence 
permit himself to depart from the letter of his 
instructions in order to fulfil their spirit. Con- 
fidence, I say deliberately; for in the majority 

266 The Military Rule of Obedience 

of such instances he will receive intelligent 
and generous consideration. 

In such instances it is not just that the pro- 
priety of the act should be judged by the 
event ; and it is not true that it will be, as a 
cheap sneer would have it. Success undoubt- 
edly often covers mistakes ; for human nature 
is on the whole generous, or at least good- 
tempered. It is willing to forgive faults which 
it can afford to forget; but failure does not 
with any equal certainty entail condemna- 
tion, for again mankind is generous, and no- 
where more so than in dealing with military 
men. Even though mishap ensue, where an 
officer can show preponderant military reasons 
for departure from orders, he can anticipate 
from his superiors intelligent comprehension 
and acquittal, which the public will confirm 
on their finding ; but, while this is so, let none 
be rash enough to anticipate immunity on the 
score of error of judgment, when it can be 
demonstrated that with the data before him a 
man who knew his business would have de- 
cided otherwise. s 

Actions that fly in the face of ascertainable 
fact, or of well-settled military principles, are 

The Military Rule of Obedience 267 

not to be excused as merely errors of judg- 
ment. They are something more, and worse. 
A man is just as much responsible for an error 
of judgment which results from his own neglect 
to inform himself, or his lack of professional 
knowledge, as he is for any other misdoing. 
What is amiss here is not judgment, but con- 
duct. Such errors when they take shape in 
action, whether of commission or omission, are 
misconduct. They have a standing, as acts, 
external to and independent of the person com- 
mitting them, just as murder has a standing as 
a crime quite independent of its association 
with the individual criminal. As killing is not 
always murder, but depends for its character 
upon the attendant circumstances, so a par- 
ticular unfortunate military movement is not 
always misconduct Circumstances may be 
proved to justify it. In neither case, however, 
is it the judgment of the person concerned that 
determines conduct to have been good or bad. 
It is the circumstances, passed upon by judges 
other than himself, and referred to recognized 
standards. Personal defects may be considered 
in extenuation, or they may not; their title to 
indulgence is small where they are due to per- 

268 The Military Rule of Obedience 

sonal fault or neglect, present or in the past, 
or to professional incompetency. 

If so much as is here claimed be allowed to 
the military duty of obedience, it is desirable 
to pass in review the considerations from which 
such weighty obligations are supposed to de- 
rive. Tradition and acceptance, in most men 
irreflective, have built up an imposing fabric 
of power, cemented by the habit of rigid, and 
in the last resort of even blind, submission to 
superior authority, which, in exhibition and ex- 
ercise, is directly and immediately personal, 
though legal in derivation. It will be useful 
to test the foundations upon which this struc- 
ture rests, and the necessity, in order to main- 
tain it, of a moral code so foreign to the 
customary personal independence of the gen- 
eral citizen. Or, if a more vital simile be 
desired for an organization so instinct with 
life and regulated movement as a well-consti- 
tuted military body, let us seek the root, the 
energizing power of which has evolved, de- 
veloped, and continues to quicken, military 
efficiency in all its ramifications, whether in 
administrative methods or in the principles 
governing the conduct of war in open cam- 

The Military Rule of Obedience 269 

paign. What we here possess we have through 
tradition. Can it give an account of itself? 

The value of tradition to the social body is 
immense. The veneration for practices, or for 
authority, consecrated by long acceptance, has 
a reserve of strength which cannot be speedily 
obtained by any novel device. Respect for the 
old customs is planted deep in the hearts, as 
well as in the intelligence, of all inheritors of 
English-speaking polity. From the very rea- 
son of this profound influence over men, tra- 
ditions need from time to time to be brought 
to the touchstone, by reference to principle, in 
order to know whether they are still accordant 
with the ideas in which their origin is found ; 
or whether, the ideas themselves being already 
outgrown, the tradition no longer represents a 
living present, but only a dead past. Is the 
duty of military obedience in either of these 
cases? Does the tradition, set forth by the 
rule, still embody the essential spirit of the 
principle once involved? Is the principle it- 
self still alive and applicable as of old ? 

The question is far from needless, for the 
contest between the letter and the spirit is 
constant here, as in many spheres of action. 

2 jo The Military Rule of Obedience 

I am inclined to believe that on shore, among 
soldiers, the letter has tended to have the up- 
per hand, and with seamen the spirit, due prob- 
ably to the more frequent removal of the latter 
from the presence of an immediate superior, 
throwing them thus upon their own initiative. 
Naval biography and history, and military his- 
tory as far as my limited reading goes, seem to 
support this opinion. No man wrestled with 
the question more vigorously than Nelson ; 
none found greater exasperation than he did 
in the too often successful opposition of the 
letter to the demands of his impetuous spirit 
for co-operation, addressed to men over whom 
he had not immediate control ; none was more 
generous in his attitude to subordinates who 
overrode or overpassed his own orders, pro- 
vided he saw in their acts the intelligent and 
honest will to forward his purposes. Obedi- 
ence he certainly required ; but he recognized 
that, given a capable and zealous man, better 
work would usually be had by permitting a 
certain elasticity of initiative, provided it was 
accompanied by accurate knowledge of his 
general wishes. These he was always most 
careful to impart; in nothing was he more 

The Military Rule of Obedience 271 

precise or particular. If he allowed large lib- 
erty in the letter, he expected close observance 
of, nay, rather, participation in, the spirit of his 
ideas. He was not tolerant of incapacity, nor 
would he for a moment bear wilful disregard of 
his plans. When considerations of high policy 
entertained by himself were crossed by Sidney 
Smith, his language became peremptory. " As 
this is in strict opposition to my opinion, which 
is never to suffer any one individtial Frenchman 
to quit Egypt, I strictly charge and command 
you never to give any French ship or man leave 
to quit Egypt." The italics are his own ; and 
he adds again, as though distrustful still : " You 
are to put my orders in force, not on any pre- 
tence to permit a single Frenchman to leave 
Egypt." The severity of the tone sufficiently 
proves his disposition to enforce the strictest 
rule, where necessary to control individuals ; 
but a more liberal reliance upon principle, in 
preference to rule, was his habit. None, it 
may be added, illustrated more copiously than 
he, when a junior, the obedience of the spirit 
and the disobedience of the letter. His prac- 
tice was in this consistent in all stages of his 
career. Unfortunately, the example may tempt 

272 The Military Rule of Obedie7ice 

smaller men to follow where their heads are 
not steady enough to keep their feet. 

Of course, thinking and feeling thus, he gave 
frequent expression to his views, and these, 
coming from a man of his military genius, are 
often very illuminative. There is one such 
that is singularly applicable to our present 
purpose, of searching for the underlying prin- 
ciple which governs the duty and observance 
of obedience, and determines its absolute neces- 
sity to all military action. " I find few think 
as I do, but to obey orders is all perfection. 
What would my superiors direct, did they 
know what is passing under my nose? To 
serve my King and to destroy the French I 
consider as the great order of all, from which 
little ones spring, and if one of these little ones 
militate against it, I go back to obey the great 

Carefully analyzed, there is much that is 
instructive in these words. First of all, it will 
be observed that the obedience commended is 
that of the spirit, compliant with general known 
views. Again, justification of local disobedi- 
ence also rests upon this compliance with the 
spirit, applied to the attendant circumstances. 

The Military Rule of Obedience 273 

This tacitly admits, of course, that the circum- 
stances must be adequate in order to justify 
disobedience. It is, however, deeply significant 
and monitory that the particular sentences 
quoted were elicited by censure from the Ad- 
miralty for disobedience, in the only instance, 
among many similar liberties of action, in 
which Nelson failed to establish that circum- 
stances did warrant, or rather did require, him 
to traverse his instructions. Even he, in the 
very height of his glory, with reputation, capa- 
city, and zeal, all established beyond question, 
could not trifle with literal obedience, on the 
strength of his own judgment, where, upon 
a calm review of all the facts, the circumstances 
failed to justify him. He himself, in the ex- 
asperation of self-vindication, fell into the facile 
perversion of thought, concerning error of 
judgment. " I am so confident of the upright- 
ness of my intention, that, with all respect, I 
submit myself to the judgment of my supe- 
riors." " Although a military tribunal may 
think me criminal, the world will approve my 

What Nelson here meant by " the world" 

may be doubtful ; but it is impossible that the 


274 The Military Rule of Obedience 

verdict of history to-day will not affirm the 
propriety of the Admiralty's rebuke a century 
ago. The facts, briefly stated, were these. 
The Commander-in-Chief of the whole Medi- 
terranean had sent orders to Nelson, his subor- 
dinate, to detach a certain part of his force 
from Naples to Minorca, which he considered 
endangered. Nelson, anticipating the case, 
had argued, to quote his own words, " Should 
such an order come, it would be a cause for 
some consideration whether Minorca is to be 
risked, or the two kingdoms of Naples and 
Sicily. I rather think my decision would be 
to risk the former;" and he deliberately dis- 
obeyed, resting on this opinion of his own. 
His error, however induced, is dear enough. 
The Commander-in-Chief was charged with 
the safety of the whole field, Naples as well as 
Minorca, with many other cases needless to 
specify. It was his business, and his responsi- 
bility, to co-ordinate all in a general plan of 
offence and defence; in order to carry out 
which he had need to count upon the certain 
movement of all parts of his command in obedi- 
ence to his directions. Refusal in any one 
part might throw all out of gear. Nelson's 

The Military Rule of Obedience 275 

particular district, was, simply and broadly, Na- 
ples and the Eastern Mediterranean. Within 
these limits he had full discretion, subject to 
the general orders of his superior, and his 
information as to his policy; but when he 
undertook to act upon his own estimate of the 
relative value of Minorca and Naples, he went 
outside the trust and the powers committed 
to him, and invaded the province which be- 
longed to the Commander-in-Chief alone. His 
erroneous judgment, or as he styles it, " The 
uprightness of my intentions," being translated 
into overt act, became misconduct, and as such 
was censured by the Admiralty. " Their Lord- 
ships do not see sufficient reason to justify 
your having disobeyed the orders you had re- 
ceived from your commanding officer, or hav- 
ing left Minorca exposed to the risk of being 
attacked without having any naval force to 
protect it." 

It is perhaps expedient to observe, as tend- 
ing to confirm a general truth which cannot be 
too seriously insisted upon, that this unwar- 
rantable action was something more than a 
breach of necessary discipline, by a man of too 
assured position and importance to be sum- 

276 The Military Rule of Obedience 

marily treated, and who therefore should have 
been doubly careful of the strict propriety of 
his course. It was also most unfair to the 
Commander-in-Chief, in its possible conse- 
quences. In case of mishap, the public, less 
clear-sighted ordinarily than the administration, 
because more easily moved by appearances, 
would have sought the first victim of its dis- 
pleasure in the superior, who had not the same 
support of past brilliant achievement to fall 
back on that Nelson had. Nor can it, I think, 
upon a more detailed examination of the cir- 
cumstances than is here expedient, be doubted 
that very serious national disaster was possible, 
though actually no harm resulted from this 
breach of discipline. 

A previous instance of disobedience on the 
part of a junior admiral, less than three years 
before, met with very different measure. Lord 
St. Vincent, then Sir John Jervis, commanded 
the British fleet in the Mediterranean in 1 796. 
Scarcity of provisions compelled him to order 
one of his lieutenants, Rear- Admiral Mann, to 
take half a dozen ships-of-the-line to Gibraltar, 
there to fill up, and to rejoin him in Corsica 
as soon as possible. On his way down, about 

The Military Rule of Obedience 277 

October 1, Mann met and was chased by a 
Spanish fleet of nineteen sail, on their way to 
Toulon to join the French navy there; Spain 
having very lately declared war. He escaped, 
and reached Gibraltar; but on arrival there 
called a council of war, and upon its advice 
determined not to carry out his orders to re- 
join Jervis. Instead, dominated by the fear 
of possible consequences, which governed his 
judgment, he took his division to England. 
An error of judgment? Yes, according to 
the common phrase, which the present writer 
accepted from unchallenged tradition, until 
forced by reflection to recognize that "error 
of judgment" was being invoked to cover 
many acts, very different in their military 

Mark the result. Because the junction of 
the Spanish navy to the French gravely im- 
perilled Jervis with fifteen ships in Corsica, 
Mann judged expedient to leave him in the 
lurch, instead of obeying his orders and taking 
back the seven he had with him. Jervis, in 
perplexed uncertainty, hung on till the last 
moment, diminishing the rations of his men 
to one-third of the daily allowance, doubting 

278 The Military Rule of Obedience 

and wondering, unwilling to depart lest he 
should expose Mann's seven, as Mann was ex- 
posing his fifteen. He was, besides, confident 
that, if the junction were effected in Corsica, 
twenty-two ships, such as he would then have, 
would " make their way " through the out- 
numbering Spaniards " in every direction ; " 
that is, " would cut them to pieces." So much 
for the opportunity lost, as Jervis judged it; 
in which agreed the opinion of Nelson, who 
was with him. We have also the sober meas- 
ured judgment of Collingwood on the same 
occasion. " We waited with the utmost im- 
patience for Admiral Mann, whose junction 
at one time seemed absolutely necessary to our 
safety." As for Mann, the Admiralty showed 
their appreciation of his judgment by steps 
which proved that they considered his conduct 
at fault. A cutting rebuke was administered. 
" Their lordships feel the greatest regret that 
you should have been induced to return to 
England with the squadron under your orders, 
under the circumstances in which you were 
placed." " The circumstances " which gov- 
erned his judgment did not justify his conduct. 
He was deprived at once of his command, and 

The Military Rule of Obedience 279 

appears never to have been employed afloat 

Occurring in so high quarters, and being on 
so large a scale, these instances show more 
forcibly than usual what the necessity is, what 
the root, whence spring the principle, the rule, 
and the duty — all three — of military obedi- 
ence. Where many wills have to act to one 
end, unity of effort, effective co-operation, 
needs not only to exist, but to be guaranteed 
by the strongest possible sanctions. The many 
wills need to become one will ; the many 
persons, in many quarters, simply the rep- 
resentatives, in the best sense, of the one 
person, in whom the united action of the whole 
finds source and energy. Lord St. Vincent's 
maxim, " The whole of discipline is contained 
in the one word ' obedience, ' " may be correctly 
paraphrased, " The whole of military action is 
contained in the one word ' unity.' ,: Obedience 
and unity are only different manifestations of 
the same principle. The one is the principle 
in will, the other in act. The one characterizes 
the conduct of persons, the other the conduct 
of operations. Obedience ensures that the 
members of the military body, often far apart, 

280 The Military Rule of Obedience 

will obey the one commander with the accuracy 
and vigor with which the muscles of an athlete 
obey his will. 

In the conduct of war, what is concentration, 
the necessity of which is universally granted, 
but essential unity? When, for purposes of 
the war, concentration yields momentarily to 
expansion, then all the movements and dis- 
positions of the forces must be governed by 
reference to easy concentration, to unity of 
action. The moment this consideration is 
violated, unity is sacrificed, and conduct has 
become misconduct; nor does it matter, in 
justification of a plain violation of principle, 
that the misconduct is due to an error of judg- 
ment. If circumstances knowable at the time 
justify, judgment has not been at fault; if they 
do not, the man should have known better. 
This necessity to keep unity in view is ex- 
pressed by one of Napoleon -s pithy phrases : 
" The art of war consists in proper distribu- 
tions, to disseminate in order to exist, and to 
concentrate in order to fight." Again he says, 
" War is a business of positions," and he illus- 
trates the maxim by an example of positions 
of dissemination, so taken that the scattered 

The Military Rule of Obedience 281 

bodies can with certainty and in the briefest 
period unite at a common centre, in case of 
threatened attack, or for an intended move- 
ment of offence. 

In all this there is, of course, much that 
finds close analogies in civil life, and no doubt 
much light might be thrown on the rule of 
military obedience by a comparative examina- 
tion of other callings. But the peculiarity of 
war, for which alone the military professions 
exist, to meet or to avert it, is that men are in 
the constant presence of power actively and 
malevolently intent upon injuring them, by any 
means of surprise or superiority of force that 
can be contrived. Therefore the need to have 
every moment in hand, and upon occasion 
to exert, all the means at ones command, to 
counteract the enemy, to overthrow his de- 
signs, to crush himself, to do so with the ut- 
most speed and certainty, weighs heavier in 
war than in more tranquil pursuits. War is 
face to face continually, not with misfortune 
only but with catastrophe; and that not of 
gradual approach or partial, but sudden and 

For these weighty reasons, all available re- 

282 The Military Rule of Obedience 

sources to forestall such result, and to destroy 
the enemy upon whom it depends, need to be 
utilized and put forth in the most effective and 
promptest manner. This means that exertions 
in all parts must be instant upon the word of 
command, and in unison ; united in movement 
and united in weight. Velocity and weight 
are the factors of momentum in armed colli- 
sion as in any other, and both the rapidity and 
the force of an intended blow depend upon 
unity of impulse and simultaneous impact, in 
bodies of men as well as in projectiles. What 
else is the conceded value of movement in 
mass than concentrated movement, the weight 
of several bodies effectively joined into one ? 
To frame the plan, to initiate and control the 
movement, to give to it direction, combination, 
and impulse, to sustain its energy, is the duty 
of one man, upon whom in the last analysis 
depends the unity of thought and act which 
inspires and vivifies the whole ; but the trans- 
mission of the impulse and energy throughout 
the mass, so that the oneness of the head is 
realized in the unity of the whole, is ensured 
by the military rule of obedience, and by that 
only. Obedience is the cement of the struc- 

The Military Rule of Obedience 283 

ture; or, more worthily understood in the spirit, 
apart from which a word is but dead, it is the 
life-blood of the organism. In short, the rule 
of obedience is simply the expression of that 
one among the military virtues upon which all 
the others depend, in order that the exertion of 
their powers may not breed confusion, which is 
the precursor of disaster, but may accomplish 
decisive results, approaching perfection in pro- 
portion as co-operation has been exact. 



May, 1902. 

AS a matter of mere retrospect, there can 
be few officers now in the navy whose 
recollections of the late Admiral Sampson go 
back as far as my own. Although a few 
months his junior in age, I belonged to the 
class at the Naval Academy which was two 
years ahead of his ; and consequently, at the 
time of his entrance, I was able to regard new- 
comers with something of that feeling of de- 
tached superiority which is apt to characterize 
the attitude of older collegians toward fresh- 
men. Whatever of distinction between the 
two exists in the nature of things is, of course, 
emphasized at a military school, where the 
want of uniform and difference of carriage 
betray at a glance any affectation of com- 
posure, with which a stranger may try to con- 
ceal the fact that he is in an unaccustomed 
position and knows it. At that date — 1S57 
— the body of midshipmen, as they were then 

288 Admiral Sampson 

styled, were organized for purposes of drill 
and messing on the same basis as the ship's 
company of a naval vessel of the day, in small 
groups of sixteen to twenty in number, called 
gun's crews. To each of these was assigned, 
in the battery which figured as a ship's deck, 
a gun of the type then common in the navy, a 
thirty-two pounder; and at the head of each 
were two captains, called first and second, 
taken from the two older classes. I was 
second captain of the gun to which Sampson 
was assigned, and my earliest sight of him was 
toward the end of September, when the whole 
Academy assembled for the first muster of the 
year, the conspicuous incident of the ail-round 
shakedown with which the annual course began. 
It is, perhaps, characteristic of the person- 
ality of the man, that even then, under all the 
awkward disadvantage of a novice, he made 
such an impression upon me that I can at 
this moment see his face as I did then, and 
as vividly. Memory plays strange tricks ; and 
her methods of selecting what she is pleased 
to retain defy systematization, or unqualified 
approval. The trivial sticks, the important 
escapes ; at least we often so estimate its ac- 

Admiral Sampson 289 

tion. In this case I do not mean in the least 
to convey the idea that I then recognized, con- 
sciously, that the person before me was one of 
superior intellect or character, marked though 
Sampson afterward proved to be in both those 
respects. Nevertheless, I do find it noticeable, 
in the light of his subsequent career, that he, 
and he alone, of all the youths then about me, 
has left an abiding remembrance. I had a 
hard wrestle with my recollections a few days 
ago to recall who was the first captain of that 
crew. I got him at last; but memory is ob- 
stinate in refusing me the names or faces of 
the men who sat on my right and left hand at 
mess during the eight following months which 
made the academic year of study. Sampson 
alone of the whole group has stuck. 

Although I did not then, nor for long after- 
ward, analyze the reason for this arrest of atten- 
tion, which forced memory to take hold and 
pigeon-hole a portrait for future reference, I 
incline to think that it was due to the unusual 
inquisitive interest he showed in all that was 
going on. This trait was carried into his sub- 
sequent professional life as a whole. It was 
the necessary complement to his very excep- 


290 Admiral Sampson 

tional intellectual capacity, without which his 
natural abilities might have been wasted, as 
have been those of so many other gifted men 
in all callings. The average raw boy, in his 
then position of entrance to the Academy, 
yields passively, and with a certain sense of 
subjection, to the impulse of those above him. 
He does what he is told, asks no questions, and 
gradually learns by familiarity what he has to 
know and to do. Commonly, too, he acts thus 
through life. He goes through his round, do- 
ing his duty ; for, if he learns nothing else, that 
at least the navy drives thoroughly home, and 
from that lesson the personnel of the service 
becomes the thoroughly reliable instrument it 
always has proved on demand. For average 
results the motive is sufficient. But the desire 
for personal advancement is stifled by the rule 
of promotion by seniority; and consequently 
the only stimulus in peace, to exertion beyond 
the simple line of duty, is the influence of a 
lively interest in matters professional for their 
own sake. This creates initiative and sustains 
energy, thus becoming a productive force for 
personal improvement, as well as for naval prog- 
ress. This Sampson had, and to it he owed 

Admiral Sampson 2 9 1 

the advance and eminence which constitute 
the self-made man. Yet he was entirely with- 
out the aggressive self-assertion which is often 
the unpleasant accompaniment of those who 
realize that they owe their fortunes to them- 
selves. There was in him an inherent mod- 
esty and simplicity, through which there 
transpired no evidence of consciousness that 
he had made himself more than others. In 
all my intercourse with him he never gave any 
indication of knowing that he was a man of 
mark ; and as he rested contentedly in the 
sense of duty done, for its own sake and its 
own interest, so he never sought other ap- 
proval than his own. He had none of the 
tricks of the popularity hunter, and he suffered 
for it. 

In the very small beginnings of his introduc- 
tion to naval life, at our first meeting, Samp- 
son began as he afterwards continued ; putting 
me through a searching series of questions 
concerning the matters around him. He 
clearly, if unconsciously, intended not to wait 
till knowledge came to him of itself, if he could 
compel it to hasten. I should not call him 
handsome, as I remember him then, though 

292 Admiral Sampson 

the elements of the singular good looks that 
he possessed in early manhood were all there 

— an unusually fine complexion, delicate, reg- 
ular features, and brown eyes remarkable both 
in shape and color. The .smooth, round face 
struck me as over small, and the beauty which 
in his prime was thoroughly masculine, seemed 
then wanting in strength — a singular misread- 
ing. He had just about as much — or as little 

— carriage and bearing as the ordinary country 
lad of his age, emphasized by a loose mixed 
suit, ready-made and ill-fitting. He owed, 
therefore, nothing to adventitious external cir- 
cumstances. The figure, which soon after 
broadened and gathered erectness and firm- 
ness, gave then an impression of slightness 
amounting to fragility, which was pathetically 
recalled to me by the shrunken aspect notice- 
able after the Spanish War, when prolonged 
frail health and incipient decay had wasted 
the vigorous frame I had once known, and 
set on him the mark of death's approach. I 
remember also that his manner in questioning 
was not only interested, but eager, affecting the 
play of the face ; in this differing from the im- 
pression usually conveyed by him in mature 

Admiral Sampson 293 

life, which was one of too great quiescence. 
This was really an evidence of temperamental 
calmness, of self-composure, not of indifference, 
for he was susceptible of strong feeling, and at 
times exhibited it ; but commonly his features, 
though little open to criticism otherwise, were 
too statuesque and unemotional. 

To one with a prophet's eye, the conjunction 
of the raw country lad who was questioning me 
with the scene surrounding him would have 
constituted an artistic epitome of our naval 
history, past and future. The material of naval 
war was then on the eve of an epoch of transi- 
tion, in which he was to play a part so promi- 
nent as to associate him continuously with its 
entire progress. The guns and carriages among 
which we stood, and the implements with 
which they were served, differed little in size 
and nothing in method from those with which 
the War of 181 2 had been fought. There was 
then being introduced a new class of cannon, 
resembling the old in type, but exaggerated in 
size and improved in manufacture, with some 
scientifically calculated modifications in form, 
and with new methods of handling. The partic- 
ular effective feature of these, however, was the 

294 Admiral Sampson 

throwing of explosive shells instead of solid shot. 
With them mainly the Civil War was to be 
fought; but their designer, the most prominent 
ordnance officer then in the navy, still rejected 
the project of rifling great guns, as being need- 
less for sea warfare. " Those who mean fight- 
ing," he was reported to have said, " will come 
within smooth-bore range ; " an unconscious 
plagiarism upon Nelson, who was indifferent 
to improvements in sighting, on the avowed 
ground that it was better to go so near the 
enemy that you could not miss. The other 
considerations which compelled the accept- 
ance of the rifle, — notably sustained velocity 
and penetrative force, — were then little ac- 
counted of ; for the armoring of ships was 
in an uncertain infancy. The turret system, 
soon to play so great a part, was yet a germ 
in the thought of its inventor, unknown to the 
professional world. 

It will easily be understood that after our 
first interview the difference of classes be- 
tween us prevented any growth of intimacy, 
beyond the occasional and entirely routine 
association of the drill ground; and there, as 
silence was the rule for all except necessary 

Admiral Sampson 295 

orders, acquaintance could scarcely make fur- 
ther way. We saw little or nothing of each 
other, save in the most casual manner, up to 
the time of my graduation in 1859. He re- 
mained until 1 86 1, the outbreak of the Civil 
War, when he graduated in due course ; the 
war not having the effect upon his class, which 
it did on some that followed, of shortening 
their time at the Academy in response to the 
urgent demand of the service for more young 
officers. His career throughout was in scholar- 
ship most distinguished ; giving, withal, that 
assurance of force of character as well as in- 
tellectual capacity which led to his long iden- 
tification with the Academy in after years. 
First as an assistant, afterwards as the head 
of one of the scientific departments, ultimately 
as superintendent, no naval officer has been 
more broadly associated with it, or made a 
more marked impression. He declined de- 
cisively, however, to entertain a proposal made 
to him, to remain as permanent head of the 
department which he successfully administered 
from time to time. There was much that was 
tempting in an offer, which would substitute, 
for the family partings incidental to a naval 

296 Admiral Sampson 

career, a comfortable fixed home and steady 
congenial employment ; but in speaking of it 
to me he alleged his unwillingness to be sev- 
ered from immediate association with the pro- 
fession of his education and friendships. As 
it was, his constant returns to the same sphere 
of duty were, like his other conspicuous em- 
ployments, one part of the unexpressed tribute, 
the tribute in act rather than word, which the 
service paid to his merits. Not that words 
were wanting; but men spoke them among 
themselves, rather than to him or to the pub- 
lic. The professional recognition which fol- 
lowed him, and still follows, was largely 
silent ; but I believe it was, and is, as com- 
petent and instructed as it is positive and even 

Of this I am, perhaps, the better judge, in 
that my own personal knowledge of him is 
chiefly at second hand, not direct. I am rather 
a witness to general reputation than an eye- 
witness of conduct or character. Though I 
knew him well, and met him often, and so had 
occasion by experience to corroborate the gen- 
eral estimate, we were rarely associated, and 
never closely. Intimacy never existed between 

Admiral Sampson 297 

us, and there was no chance for me thus to 
form that prepossession of esteem which I had 
ample occasion to note among those who had 
seen him in active service. Officers who 
had been under his command afloat spoke of 
him with a warmth of admiration and confi- 
dence, the sincerity of which was too obvious 
for doubt To those who, like myself, learned in 
this way how he was regarded by the men who 
had been best situated to observe him, there 
was little surprise at the eminent character- 
istics shown by him during the late war; nor 
had there been antecedently any fear whether 
the Navy Department was exercising sound 
judgment and discretion in selecting him for 
the position he held. His very remarkable 
fitness for particular duties, which had to be 
discharged on shore, had kept him decidedly 
below the average in the amount of what is 
technically rated as " sea-service ; " but that 
which he did left no apprehension among those 
who saw him that the habit of the student or 
administrator had swamped the faculties of the 
sea officer. He was to add another example 
to the list of those who have proved by their 
deeds, that the professional capacity of the sea- 

298 Admiral Sampson 

man is at least as much a matter of intelligence 
as of uninterrupted practice, and that, once 
acquired, it is very like other habits, easily 
resumed after intermission, and quickly re- 
stored when a little rusty. 

Prominent among the aptitudes of the com- 
petent commander, however, are certain moral 
faculties which are not acquired by practice, 
though they may by it be improved and en- 
larged; gifts from Nature, who in such matters 
knows nothing of impartiality* It was upon 
these traits in Sampson that men seemed in- 
stinctively to dwell, and by them chiefly to be 
impressed. Their estimates were not reached 
as a matter of analysis, but were received by 
incidental familiarity and daily observation of 
the man. As I met his reputation from time 
to time in conversation with men, in their opin- 
ions and anecdotes, as I knew him by what 
they thought and quoted about him, there 
formed gradually in my mind a conception of 
his professional character which the event has 
proved to be substantially correct. The more 
naval history and biography are read, the more 
do they confirm to us the assurance that in 
successful leaders there are certain essential 

Admiral Sampson 299 

qualities, the absence of which in a particular 
man may remain long undetected, like a flaw 
beneath the surface of metal, but under strain 
is suddenly revealed, to the disappointment 
and dismay of those who had hopes of him. 
No one has phrased this experience better than 
Lord St. Vincent, in the words, " Responsibility 
is the test of a man's courage." Not that 
many men who here fail are not brave enough 
physically; but that, for those who emerge 
unbroken from this trial, there remains none 
severer. It is the extreme proof of endurance, 
active and passive. A frequent and familiar 
indication of succumbing under it is the ina- 
bility to sleep, which has been the prelude of 
many failures. 

It was upon this characteristic, and upon 
the qualities accessory to it, that there was 
consensus of opinion in Sampson's case. How- 
ever differing otherwise in details, all agreed in 
the conclusion that upon him responsibility sat 
easily ; that anxiety did not overrun the due 
bounds of reasonable, though watchful, pre- 
caution ; that he could rest with quiet mind 
in the certainty that all had been done which 
reason could prescribe, untroubled by fears of 

300 Admiral Sampson 

improbable, though not impossible, eventuali- 
ties. To this is closely allied the very essen- 
tial power to take necessary risk for adequate 
ends, a thing almost impossible to a man upon 
whom responsibility weighs unduly. This was 
finely, though unconsciously, illustrated in his 
orders for the blockade of Santiago. " The 
end to be attained justifies the risk of torpedo 
attack, and that risk must be taken. The 
escape of the Spanish squadron at this junc- 
ture would be a serious blow to our prestige, 
and to a speedy end of the war." To one who 
has listened, as I have, to one of his gallant 
captains telling, in laughing earnest, the num- 
ber of torpedo-boats imagination discovered in 
one of the early nights of the Havana blockade, 
these words mean more than they will, perhaps, 
convey to a layman. It is in this danger, in 
its anxiety even more than in its actuality, — in 
its moral effect, — that the naval profession 
recognizes one of the greatest difficulties of a 
modern blockade. A distinguished British 
admiral has said that he believed but a small 
proportion of captains could long endure the 
nightly strain. Sampson assumed it without 
hesitation, though not without assiduous pre- 

Admiral Sampson 30 1 

caution, as is shown by the numerous orders 
issued by him to perfect the methods. The 
danger was shared by many ; the responsibility 
of the means, which effectually prevented the 
enemy from coming out by night, and so con- 
fusing the movements of our squadron, was his 

It is evident that this professional faculty 
was part of his natural equipment, and it mani- 
fested itself in his personal daily life. In con- 
versation, ordinarily, there was nothing more 
noticeable than a certain impassivity of manner 
that was readily mistaken for indifference or 
lack of response. This at times gave offence, 
particularly in his later years, when bodily 
weakness imparted lassitude to his speech. 
But when consulting him on a matter of inter- 
est to another, one found that he had carefully 
followed what was said, giving both thought 
and sympathy to the discussion ; while in mat- 
ters that primarily concerned himself he was 
in all outward semblance, and I believe inter- 
nally, just as quiet and untroubled as about 
the most trivial external detail. I remember 
meeting him the day after the monitor " Pa- 
tapsco " was sunk by a submarine mine off 

302 Admiral Sampson 

Charleston, a personal experience which would 
have made many men nervous as well as care- 
ful about torpedoes in after life. With her 
small reserve of buoyancy, a torpedoed monitor 
went from under the men on deck with some- 
thing of the suddenness of the drop of a gallows, 
and Sampson, who was keeping watch on the 
turret roof, described his experience as step- 
ping from it into the water. Nevertheless, 
when I saw him, he was as unaffectedly and 
without effort imperturbed as though nothing 
remarkable had occurred. Quite consistent 
with this observation of my own is the account 
given of him off Santiago by his flag-captain, 
Chadwick, in an admirably sympathetic sketch 
contributed after the admiral's death to the 
New York Evening Post " He usually had 
a chair upon the quarter-deck until about ten 
in the evening, when he turned in and slept 
soundly, unless called for something important, 
until six in the morning. His calm, equable 
temperament carried him through the night 
without any of the sleeplessness usually asso- 
ciated with the mental strain of great respon- 

In his conduct of a war command, however, 

Admiral Sampson 303 

there was not to be found any of the lethargy 
or sluggishness which might, perhaps, be in- 
ferred from this unmoved exterior. Mental 
activity and enterprise suffered nothing, but 
rather gained, from a composure of spirit which 
preserved all his other faculties from derange- 
ment, insuring the full utilization of the 
abundant intelligence, extensive professional 
knowledge, and vivid interest in his work, by 
which he w r as characterized. It is true that 
apathy is the defect of this quality of compos- 
ure, and in military biography has often been 
found to accompany it. During the Civil War 
there was an amusing anecdote of a certain 
commanding officer in a particular incident. 
" Was he composed ? " it was asked. " Oh, yes ! 
he was perfectly composed," was the reply; 
" but he had n't the faintest idea of what ought 
to be done." Sampson's professional character 
was here well balanced. It was only in the 
matter of personal ambition, of self-assertion, 
or self-vindication, that his reticent calmness 
entailed an inaction, which, though dignified, 
and preservative of his own self-respect as of 
the esteem of his comrades, did not save him 
from suffering keenly when he thought himself 

304 Admiral Sampson 

unworthily treated. He consulted me on one 
occasion as to how far it would become him to 
take action that had been suggested for his 
benefit. I told him that while I heartily wished 
him all the good that was at stake, I believed 
the particular step would be injurious to the 
navy. He expressed no decision to me then 
or afterwards ; but I thought I read assent in 
his eyes, and I know that he went no farther 
in the matter. 

The opening acts of a war drama, especially 
after a long period of peace, are necessarily 
characterized by a considerable tension of 
feeling among the actors, which seeks natural 
relief in immediate action. So big a deed as 
war calls clamorously for something to be done, 
and speedily. Probably few appreciate in this 
light how great was Dewey's privilege in the 
opportunity, so consonant to his personal qual- 
ities, and of which he so admirably availed 
himself, overriding all consideration of hazards, 
to strike at once at the enemy's fleet at its 
anchorage. Upon Sampson fell the more 
arduous trial of prolonged expectancy, in un- 
avoidable attendance upon the enemy's move- 
ments, which he could only by indirection force 

Admiral Sampson 305 

or control ; submitting to the necessity of not 
attempting to enter a harbor like Santiago, or 
risking on mine fields the armored ships which 
were the nation's most important diplomatic 
asset at that moment. In this he had no 
choice. The orders of the Government were 
positive, though his own opinion coincided 
with them. No man was more fitted by tem- 
perament than he to bear this strain, without 
disturbance of judgment or inconsiderateness 
of act. The tension which he felt in common 
with others manifested itself in sustained 
energy, rising indeed on necessary occasion to 
impetuosity, but characterized rather by the con- 
tinuous and increasing stringency of methods 
adopted to meet a sortie by the enemy. In 
the strong professional admiration I have felt 
for his conduct of operations in every respect, 
as soon as the appearance of the enemy's fleet 
had really defined the situation, it has been to 
me a matter of satisfaction that my judgment 
differed decisively from his own in two pre- 
liminary matters: his wish to attack the sea 
defences of Havana, and the expediency of his 
movement against Porto Rico, undertaken in 

the hope that on arrival he would find Cervera 


306 Admiral Sampson 

there. Soon after the war I criticised the latter 
step in the pages of McClures Magazine, draw- 
ing from him a warm remonstrance on what he 
considered an inadequate appreciation of his 
reasons. Whether he or I was right in this 
is to me immaterial, compared with the fact 
that it gives me assurance of my own impar- 
tiality in the profound admiration I have felt 
for all his dispositions and actions, without ex- 
ception that I can recall, from the time he 
knew the enemy to be on this side. 

The methods of the Santiago blockade are 
now commonly understood, but their precise 
military merit has scarcely been adequately 
appreciated. By them, as appears from the 
Spanish telegrams published since the war, 
Sampson compelled the enemy to accept battle 
on the terms they considered most disadvan- 
tageous. Many may remember the classical 
story of the leader who cried to his opponent, 
" If you be the great commander men say, why 
don't you come down and fight me ? " and re- 
ceived the pertinent reply, " If you be the gen- 
eral you claim to be, why don't you make me 
come down and fight you ? " This summarizes 
in effect the credit due to Sampson. On June 

Admiral Sampson 307 

26, just a week before the battle, the Spanish 
authorities at Madrid and Havana had decided 
that the surrender of the squadron in Santiago, 
or its destruction there by its own officers, 
would be more injurious to their cause than its 
destruction in battle, and they held that, by 
"choosing a dark night and favorable oppor- 
tunity while part of the enemy's ships are with- 
drawn," there was a fair chance of eluding the 
United States fleet. Cervera replied that to 
go out " at night was more perilous than in 
daytime, on account of the hostile ships being 
closer inshore." After the war, he explained 
at length, in a letter dated October 7, 1898: 
" At night the enemy remained in the imme- 
diate vicinity of the harbor entrance. They 
always had one ship less than a mile distant, 
constantly illuminating the entrance; and as 
though this were not enough, they had other 
smaller vessels still nearer, and steamboats 
(launches) close to the headlands of the en- 
trance. Once in a while the latter would ex- 
change musketry fire with our forces. Under 
these circumstances it was absolutely impossi- 
ble to go out at night, because in this narrow 
channel, illuminated by a dazzling light, we 

308 Admiral Sampson 

could not have followed the channel. But 
even supposing we had succeeded in going out, 
before the first ship was outside we should 
have been seen and covered from the very first 
with the concentrated fire of the whole squad- 
ron." These details will be found to corres- 
pond with Sampson's published orders. 

The thoroughness of the blockade after 
Sampson's arrival determined the detention of 
Cervera in Santiago till our army arrived. To 
use an expression of one of the American cap- 
tains, it " put the lid on Cervera's coffin." After 
the army came, the same measure determined 
the destruction of the squadron if it attempted 
to escape ; for it decided the time and condi- 
tions under which the battle would be fought, 
when on July i, the further land defence be- 
ing considered practically hopeless, a peremp- 
tory order to sail was given to Cervera. The 
forcing of the enemy to action under these dis- 
advantageous conditions was the great decisive 
feature of the campaign from start to finish. 

The skill with which advantage was taken 
of all the possibilities of the situation was char- 
acteristic of Sampson's deliberate painstaking 
energy. No less characteristic, indicative of 

Admiral Sampson 


the sustained purpose which rises of its own 
force to impetuosity, when impetuosity is 
needed, was his urgent repeated telegram to 
the Department for its sanction to go to San- 
tiago with only two ships, dropping the slower 
but powerful battle-ship " Indiana," when news 
was received that Commodore Schley felt it 
necessary to bring back his squadron to 
Key West for coal. For once he betrayed 
impatience at the apparent delay of the De- 
partment, although it replied the same day. 
It was a flash of the fire that burned within 
him unremittingly, but with regulated fervor ; 
a token of the entire absorption in his duties 
which was the groundwork of his professional 
character. Disregardful of all but the necessity 
of success, he was heedless of personal danger, 
and daring in professional risk. The mastery 
which the service had over his interest and 
affections, united to entire self-mastery in 
temper and under responsibility, insured his 
eminence as an officer, which history will 
unquestionably recognize and affirm. 

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